Sports Betting Progress In Virginia

Waving Fabric Flag of Virginia

Legal sports betting appears to be getting closer in Virginia as lawmakers bring forward legislation that would set up a regulated framework for the industry.

Last week, Delegate Mark Sickles announced the pre-filing of a bill that would put sports betting under the oversight of the state lottery, and Democratic State Sen. Chap Petersen has also stated that he would be filing his own bill in the coming weeks.

While Petersen is planning to propose a new state authority to legislate the Virginian sports betting industry, under Sickles’ plans, which were contained in House Bill 1638, sports betting would fall under the jurisdiction of the existing state lottery.

Virginia has no casino industry and there are no racetracks operating in the state, but lawmakers are looking for ways to reduce the state’s dependence on federal funds and to diversify the economy. And with other states, including New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia, pushing ahead with their own legalized sports betting industries, Virginia risks being left behind.

Ban on college sports betting

Under House Bill 1638, there would be a maximum of five licenses to take sports bets in the state, with each being issued for three years. The initial license cost would be set at $250,000 and a $200,000 renewal fee would apply. The Bill also proposes that a revenue tax of 15 percent would be imposed, with a small percentage of that going to the state lottery. That tax level is much lower than the 51 percent rate imposed by Rhode Island on its newly regulated sports betting industry.

The Bill also proposes a complete betting ban on anyone involved in any sports league, and there would also be a ban on betting on college sports events.

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