Sports betting in Virginia launched January 21, and Virginians have already wagered $865 million, according to press releases from the Virginia Lottery. In April, Virginians wagered $236.43 million according to a May 28 press release.
“Virginia is actually on pace to be the fastest state to reach $1 billion in sports betting handle. Tennessee is the current record holder and needed six months to reach the milestone. But Virginia will need just about four months to eclipse the 10-figure mark. It’s a real testament to the vitality of the market,” PlayVirginia.com Site Runner Dann Stupp told The Virginia Star.
April’s numbers are down 22 percent from March’s $304 million, numbers driven in part by college basketball “March Madness,” according to the Virginia Lottery press release. In April, Virginians won $216.99 million and Virginia collected $1.65 million in taxes. 97.5 percent of the taxes go to Virginia’s General Fund and 2.5 percent go into the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support fund.
Stupp said college basketball and the Super Bowl drove sports betting in February and March.
“All states with legal sports betting saw a drop in betting handle in April,” he said. “The sports calendar doesn’t really have such a signature betting event in April. Additionally, MLB, the NBA and NHL just don’t draw the type of betting interest that the NFL and college football do in the fall and winter.”
Legal wagering in Virginia is all currently online, with seven licensed operators: FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, William Hill, WynnBET, and Unibet. Stupp said Bally’s, Golden Nugget, and Barstool Sportsbook have permits from the Virginia Lottery, and are expected to launch before the NFL season.
“When the first Virginia casinos begin opening in 2022 and 2023, they can and are expected to have retail sportsbooks. ‘Retail’ just means that you can make a bet in person – at a betting window, just like you do at a sportsbook at Las Vegas casinos. Three of the five Virginia casinos (Bristol, Danville and Portsmouth) have already announced sportsbook partners for when those properties open,” Stupp said.
But Stupp said online betting will probably stay ahead of casinos. New Jersey and Pennsylvania see 90 percent of their sports betting online, even with brick-and-mortar casinos.
“That trend is likely to continue because sports bettors have shown a clear preference for the convenience of online betting,” he said.
Stupp said it’s hard to predict future sports betting performance in Virginia, since more states are launching their own markets. He said, “Maryland, for example, recently legalized sports betting and could have one of the most robust and competitive markets, so they could siphon some business away from Virginia.”
“But overall, Virginia has one of the most competitive markets with a fairly affluent population, so they’re likely to remain a regional leader,” Stupp said. “Additionally, with football season approaching and more Virginians likely to try sports betting for the first time, there’s still a lot of room for the handle to increase in future months and years.”
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