Virginia’s Sports Betting Timeline: Targets Early 2021 to Go Live

For those wondering when legal sports betting may finally go live in the state of Virginia, it’s looking like it could be early next year.

As the “red letter” date of July 15th approaches, anyone watching the industry closely will be excited to hear that this is the date that the State Lottery has to release its proposed regulations.

At that point, a 60 day countdown clock begins, by which the regulations need to be voted on before time expires. If all goes smoothly, early 2021 could be the soonest that sports betting goes live.

Only Legalized a Few Short Months Ago

As for when sports betting became legal in the state of Virginia it was just a few short months ago back in April. However the law didn’t actually go into effect until July 1st.

Once the law was officially passed, the Virginia Lottery kicked into overdrive working to ensure that sports betting wasn’t just a priority but put on the fast track so it could go live as soon as possible. Kevin Hall, Virginia Lottery Executive Director, commented on this process:

“We’ve known it was coming. We had some nominal impact during the sausage-making process, but we got started ahead of the July 1 date. We’ve already kind of done a deep dive on some of the models out there. We’ve established relationships with operators.”

With that said, Hall also made it clear that VA Lottery staff have already created an in-depth timeline for the activation of sports betting in the state. They have also been busy “interpreting” various sections of the law in order to create the regulations.

What Happens on July 15th?

With July 15th just around the corner, the Lottery is busy finalizing all its proposed regulations. They will need to share these sports betting rules with the public by posting them online and with the Lottery commission at the same time. From there, a 30 day period commences in which comments can be made.

It will then be September 15th that the Lottery must approve the regulations, as it can’t run any later than that date by law. To ensure it is all legal, the rules and regulations will then need to be published in the Virginia Register.

There are some within the industry that hold fast to the notion that operators may be able to open up by December, but Hall has gone on to say that this seems a little too-ambitious and not likely.

Applications will still need to be collected and then licenses issued, which can’t begin until October after the rules have been published.

Where Does This Leave Online and Mobile Sportsbooks?

Perhaps, the biggest question people seem to have at the moment is just how many online and mobile sportsbooks will be allowed to operate in Virginia. Will it be a large market or a relatively tight one?

As the law stands at the moment, there is a maximum of 12 mobile platforms allowed and a minimum of four. However, there are exceptions and that’s where things get a little more confusing.

The Lottery has commented that it will move ahead with a minimum of 11 mobile platforms and cap it off at 14, but obviously it will still be a wait and see type of approach.

To top it off, any new casinos need to get approval from local voters first, giving everyone a chance to share their opinion. Watch for questions to appear on the General Election ticket in November.

Where Will the New Casinos Be?

Currently, there are a handful of municipalities that have been earmarked to house these new casinos which are Norfolk, Danville, Bristol, Richmond, and Portsmouth.

Each of these municipalities is accepting and reviewing bids from various casinos, resorts, and palaces at the moment. The goal is to create the same sort of style and atmosphere as Las Vegas, but obviously on a smaller scale.

Danville has received a bid from casino and resort giant Caesar’s Palace worth a reported $400 million. Not only will the industry generate tax revenue but it is expected to create more than 1,300 jobs in the Danville region alone.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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