VA Lottery: Expect Virginia Sportsbooks To Launch In January

Written By Dann Stupp on September 15, 2020Last Updated on March 2, 2021

The first Virginia sportsbooks will likely launch and begin accepting bets in time for Super Bowl LV.

The Virginia Lottery on Tuesday unveiled and approved final regulations for the commonwealth’s new VA sports betting industry. As a result, officials expect the first sportsbooks in Virginia to open in January.

The formal vote came after a 56-day open-comment period that ended on Sept. 5. In it, numerous sportsbook operators offered feedback and suggestions for the final regulations. Additionally, major US sports leagues and the general public offered input.

VA Lottery officials adopted many of their recommendations in the final regulations. Now, sportsbook operators will begin applying for licenses in the next 30 days.

When will Virginia sportsbooks open?

The VA Lottery’s adoption of regulations was a major step forward for Virginia.

The Virginia General Assembly legalized gambling earlier this year. As a result, the commonwealth opened the door for legal sportsbooks and casinos.

The first Virginia casinos likely won’t open until 2023. However, lottery officials, who will regulate all gambling ventures in Virginia, said the first sportsbooks should be operational by January.

The early-2021 launch means operators could capitalize on the NFL playoffs, as well as the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. The end of the NFL season is traditionally a favorite among sports bettors.

Established operators all offered input during the open comment period:

VA Lottery officials said they’ll be ready to accept fully completed applications by mid-October.

Once an application is accepted, the VA Lottery has 90 days to issue a decision about a license. Officials said they expect to make quick but informed decisions to achieve the January launch.

How many sportsbooks will VA have?

Virginia will grant at least four and no more than 12 sports betting licenses.Virginia’s casino operators will receive five of the licenses.

Those operators could open casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond in 2023. However, the openings are contingent on successful voter referendums in each locale.

VA online sportsbooks have a much shorter schedule for launch.

Of note, though, is that some potential sportsbook companies are also preferred casino partners. The list includes Caesars (Danville), Hard Rock (Bristol) and BetRivers (Portsmouth). Therefore, those companies should each receive one of the five sportsbook licenses that are set aside for casinos.

The other sportsbook operators will vie for the remaining seven licenses.

Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall will then determine which companies receive licenses. His decision will be based on which operators he expects to provide the best revenue potential for Virginia.

Therefore, Virginia’s sports bettors can expect a competitive wagering market come January.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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