by Tyler Arnold
In Virginia’s first full month of legal gambling, the commonwealth’s sportsbooks took in about $265.8 million in wagers, which is the second largest sum for any state in its first full month.
Legalized gambling began in mid-January, taking in $58.9 million that month. In the 28 days of February, the state more than quadrupled that number. The per-day amount of money spent on wagers nearly doubled from $5.4 million in January to $9.5 million in February. The per-day jump is the largest any state has seen in one month.
“The enthusiasm from bettors will eventually settle down, and sportsbooks will pull back a bit from this heavy promotional period,” Jessica Welman, an analyst for Play Virginia, said in a statement. Play Virginia is an organization that provides analysis on the gaming industry in the commonwealth.
“Ultimately, the goal in these early days for sportsbooks is to engage sports bettors, introduce them to their product, and begin building relationships that will act as the foundation,” Welman said. “So far Virginia’s operators are doing just that.”
Sportsbooks won $12.2 million February from Virginia bets. However, because the companies have offered promotional credits to incentivize Virginians to use their services, the industry lost $3.2 million on the month after adjusting for the credits. The state took in more than $300,000 in tax revenue.
The large gain was partially spurred by bets on the Super Bowl, which garnered $19.5 million in wagers.
Michigan, which also legalized sports betting last month, was the only state to outperform Virginia in its first full month of legal betting. The state took in nearly $302 million in wagers.
“Virginia’s debut has been overshadowed some by Michigan, but together the two states show just how far the U.S. has come,” Dustin Gouker, an analyst for PlayVirginia said in a statement “The nation’s major operators have the resources to engage bettors in new markets in ways that were impossible in the early days of legalization, which benefits later-comers like Virginia. Ultimately, that will mean a market that goes through fewer growing pains than some of the earlier adopters.”
Five Virginia schools made the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament, but state law prohibits residents from betting on in-state college teams. PlayVirginia expects this could dampen the numbers for March Madness betting, which is the largest sports betting period in the country.
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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square.