VirginiaBetting.com was founded in 2020, shortly after lawmakers passed legislation authorizing statewide mobile betting. Our driving purpose is to provide education and updates on Virginia sports betting and other forms of regulated gaming.
Three forms of online betting are licensed and legal in Virginia today:
- Sports betting
- Parimutuel horse racing betting
- Daily fantasy sports
Note: VirginiaBetting.com is dedicated exclusively to legal forms of gaming. All mobile sportsbooks and other betting sites discussed anywhere on this website comply with all state and federal laws.
Virginia Sports Betting Overview
Online sports betting is legal and available across Virginia to customers 21 or older. The first Virginia sports betting apps launched in January 2021 and will be followed by retail sportsbooks in the near future.
Legislation approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam in April 2020 permits local casinos and professional sports venues to apply for licenses to operate mobile sports betting apps and websites.
The VA sports betting law tasks the Virginia Lottery Board with overseeing sports betting, issuing regulations and processing licensing requests. The Board quickly got to work, approved the necessary regulations to govern sports betting, and issued the state’s first sportsbook licenses within nine months.
The law sets a minimum age of 21 to bet on sports and permits up to 12 sports betting licenses to be issued.
Five of those licenses may be claimed by casinos that will be built in the cities of Danville, Bristol, Richmond, Portsmouth and Norfolk, subject to voter referendums in each city to be held in November 2020.
The law also allows the lottery to issue additional licenses to any NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS or NBA team that relocates to Virginia and to any racetrack that hosts NASCAR races. Licenses issued to sports franchises or racetracks will not count against the 12-license maximum.
Licensed sportsbooks are permitted to accept wagers on pro sports, college sports and esports with two major exceptions: sportsbooks may not accept wagers on games involving Virginia colleges and they may not accept proposition wagers on college sports at all.
Taxes and Licensing
Virginia sports betting licenses are issued at a cost of $250,000 and are valid for three years. Licensees must also pay a nonrefundable fee of $50,000 for each principal employee, which could potentially add significantly to the total cost of licensing for operators.
Licensed operators are also subject to a 15% tax on adjusted gross revenue.
Official League Data
Licensed sports betting data are required to purchase official data from the major sports leagues to settle all in-play wagers, as long as such data is provided on “commercially reasonable” terms.
Virginia Sports Betting Launch Date
The new law took effect on 1 July 2020 and Virginia’s first online sportsbook went live on January 21st, 2021.
The Virginia Lottery Board moved quickly to implement the law:
- July 11st 2020: Sports betting law takes effect
- July 15th: Lottery Board releases draft regulations for public comment
- July 15th – August 19th: 35-day public input period for the sports betting regulations
- September 15th: Deadline for the Lottery Board to approve sports betting regulations
- October 15th-30th: Lottery receives 25 application requests
- January 2021: Lottery Board begins issuing go-live authorizations and legal sports betting begins
Mobile Sportsbooks in Virginia
The Virginia sports betting market will be served by at least four mobile sportsbooks and likely more than that.
State law directs the Lottery to issue a minimum of four sports betting permits and no more than twelve. However, the law also states any permits issued to a major sports league franchise headquartered in the Commonwealth or a qualifying motor sports facility do not count toward the maximum.
In all, that leaves room for at least twelve and likely more mobile betting operators to set up shop in Virginia. Mobile betting apps that have either launched in Virginia or that are likely to in the future include:
- FanDuel Sportsbook (now live)
- DraftKings Sportsbook (now live)
- BetMGM (now live)
- BetRivers (now live)
- William Hill (now live)
- FOX Bet
Retail Sportsbooks in Virginia
Sportsbooks at Casinos
Separate legislation passed in 2020 approves the construction of up to five brick-and-mortar casinos in Virginia. Each of five cities that meet certain population and economic criteria are set to hold referendums in November 2020 to approve or reject the construction of casinos.
Five cities meet the criteria outlined in the casino law:
Any operators approved to construct a casino will be eligible to apply for a sports betting license.
Sportsbooks at Racetracks
Racetracks that host NASCAR races will be able to get in on the action thanks to input from Governor Northam.
Lawmakers originally passed a bill excluding motor sports tracks from participating in sports betting, but Governor Northam returned the bill with suggestions that they be given a place at the table. The General Assembly accepted the governor’s requested amendments and passed the bill into law.
Under the law, two racetracks qualify to apply for licenses or to partner with licensed sports betting operators on marketing:
- Martinsville Speedway
- Richmond Raceway
Sportsbooks at Professional Sports Facilities
Virginia sports betting law allows NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS and NBA franchises and the operators of professional sports facilities in the Commonwealth to apply for licenses.
Additionally, any franchises that are headquartered in Virginia and that pay $200 million or more in taxable wages are to be given “substantial and preferred consideration” when applying for sports betting licenses.
Substantial and preferred consideration is also given to facility operators that meet the following qualifications:
- The facility is where a professional sports franchise plays five or more regular season games per year;
- The facility operator is headquartered in Virginia;
- The facility operator has an annualized payroll of at least $10 million in Virginia; and
- The facility employs more than 100 people
Online Horse Racing Betting in Virginia
Online horse racing betting is legal and regulated in Virginia. The Virginia Racing Commission oversees the conduct of all parimutuel wagering in the Commonwealth and issues licenses to operators that wish to offer their services to residents.
Currently, four advance deposit wagering operators (ADWs) are authorized by the Commission to accept wagers via telephone and internet:
- NYRA Bets
According to recent annual reports compiled by the Racing Commission, online racing betting “continues to be a major source” of parimutuel wagering handle in Virginia.
The availability of legal online horse racing betting is especially important in Virginia, whose racing industry has struggled of late. The Commonwealth’s sole remaining thoroughbred racetrack, Colonia Downs, closed in 2014 and only reopened in 2019 following the passage of legislation allowing the track to install instant horse racing machines that function similarly to slots.
Live racing and parimutuel wagering also takes place each year at the Great Meadow Racecourse, host to the Virginia Gold Cup Races. Last year’s event attracted a crown of 60,000 people. Additionally, Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock conducts 10 days of harness racing and wagering each year.
11 VAC §10-45 deals with advance deposit wagering in Virginia and requires all operators to apply for a license from the Racing Commission. Licensing applications require a nonrefundable fee of $5,000 and are renewed annually at a cost of $1,000.
State law establishes a minimum age of 18 to bet on horse races.
Daily Fantasy Sports
The Virginia legislation formally legalized daily fantasy sports and established a regulatory framework in 2016 with the passage of the Fantasy Contests Act.
Under the Act, daily fantasy sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel must register with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) prior to hosting contests for Virginia residents. Registration involves providing key information about the business and comes with an $8,300 registration fee.
Once registered, Virginia fantasy sites must adhere to certain consumer protection regulations outlined in the Act. Some of the key requirements include:
- Ensuring all customers are at least 18 years of age
- Providing tools players may use to self-restrict from participating in fantasy contests
- Segregating player funds from operational funds
- Submitting to an annual audit with a certified public accountant
The OCRP maintains an updated list of registered fantasy contest operators here.
Virginia Betting FAQ
The Virginia betting and gambling landscape is set to change in a big way and it is only natural to have questions about what to expect. Many details have yet to be ironed out, but here’s what we know so far.