We’re Open: Virginia Lottery To Begin Accepting Sports Betting Applications Thursday

Virginia regulators appear to be right on schedule with launching sports wagering, preparing to accept applications this week with the permanent rules now posted in the Virginia Register. According to the Virginia Lottery website, operators, suppliers, and vendors may submit online applications beginning Oct. 15. The application window will be open until the end of October. Paper applications will not be accepted.

Once an application is filed, the Lottery has up to 90 days to approve it, meaning that if the Lottery takes the full 90 days, an operator could go live Jan. 15. There’s also the possibility that the Lottery could take less than 90 days for approval, in which case an approved operator could go live earlier. As in all jurisdictions, in order for an operator to go live, its vendors and suppliers must also be approved.

Lawmakers legalized sports betting in Virginia on April 22, though the law didn’t go into effect until July 1. The Lottery was required to approve regulations by Sept. 15. The Virginia Lottery Board of Directors has its next meeting set for Nov. 4.

It’s not clear yet if Virginia will have a specific launch day, like Colorado did on May 1 and neighboring Tennessee is planning on Nov. 1, or if operators will go live as they get licensed.

Hard Rock, Caesars and Rivers have casino partners

Legal sports betting in Virginia will be limited to mobile/online, at least at the outset. The new law allows for a handful of physical sportsbooks and casinos. The building of five brick-and-mortar locations are written into the law, and any pro team with headquarters in Virginia can offer sports betting. Residents of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond will vote in November on whether or not to allow retail casinos.

The city of Bristol has already partnered with Hard Rock while Danville has partnered with Caesars and Portsmouth has partnered with Rush Street Gaming. The other two cities — Norfolk and Richmond — have sold land or plan to sell land earmarked for casinos to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, and potential partners have not yet been announced.

Each casino partner will be entitled to an online “skin” or platform, meaning that Virginians are likely to see apps and/or online platforms from Scientific Games (Hard Rock), either IGT or William Hill (Caesars), and BetRivers (Rush Street).

Virginia regulators have interpreted the law to mean there will be a minimum of 11 and maximum of 14 digital platforms in the state. Five of those, as noted above, will be tethered to casinos, and the other nine could be stand-alone mobile or partnered with a pro team (read: Washington Football Team or D.C. United).

DraftKings, FanDuel, Barstool coming, too?

All the major players are likely to apply for operator licenses, including DraftKings, FanDuel, FoxBet, Penn National/Barstool and PointsBet. Four of those operators are already live online in multiple states, and Penn National launched its first highly anticipated Barstool sports betting app in Pennsylvania last month.

On the Virginia Lottery website, there are tabs for six different applications, as the state requires that principals and some employees for potential operators be individually licensed. The licensing fees are set at $250,000 for an operator, $125,000 for a supplier that will operate a sports betting platform, and $50,000 for a principal application or a supplier that will not operate a sports betting platform.

When the first platform goes live in Virginia, it will become the third jurisdiction in its region to offer mobile sports betting. West Virginia was among the first states to legalize after the fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and operators there began offering sports betting in August 2018. The D.C. Lottery went live with its GamBetDC app in late May. Voters in Maryland will decide whether or not to legalize sports betting in a November referendum.

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