Virginia’s new online sports betting regulations are a first step in the establishment of legal wagering, set to commence in the new year.
The Virginia Lottery Board recently approved a regulatory framework for legal online sports betting. This follows the passing of the necessary legislation earlier in the year. The Lottery will be accepting license applications between October 15-31 and a 90-day window applies for the approval or denial of an application.
A minimum of four and a maximum of 12 sports betting licensees will be approved and applicants will be measured according to their wagering experience, performance in other US markets, and their reputations for sticking to the rules and ability to detect “suspicious or illegal gambling activity.”
The applicants’ estimates of the betting and tax revenue they expect to generate from their Virginia operations will also be considered, alongside the number of new jobs they intend to create in the state. There is a requirement that applicants display “serious, good faith efforts to solicit and interview a reasonable number of investors that are minority individuals.”
Preference will be to applicants who have partnered with “a major league team headquartered or competing extensively in Virginia.”
If the number of applicants exceeds the available licenses, the Lottery will compare those who occupy the top two-thirds of the applicant pool. Any leftover licenses will be allocated after the remaining applicants are sufficiently scrutinized.
Successful applicants will be obliged to pay a permit issuance fee of $250k, with a further $200k to be paid soon before the three-year permit expiration. A 15% tax on betting revenue will also apply.
Bookies with local licenses may not accept wagers on games featuring Virginia college or university teams, or on the Olympic Games, with the latter being due to the difficulty in determining whether athletes are below the age of 18.
Proposition bets are permitted, except on college sports and those placed on “any type of possible injury, unsportsmanlike conduct, or any other officiating call.” In-play betting on college sports is prohibited
The Lottery will publish a list of authorized, sport-specific wagers. Any request to expand or modify this list will be subject to input from that sports league or governing body, that will have the right to request that such wagers not be permitted.
Operators may utilize “any lawful data source” for in-play betting, however, the Lottery will require licensees to use official league-supplied data at the request of the leagues as long as the data is made available “on commercially reasonable terms.”
The leagues may also force a betting operator to provide “real-time information” on wagers made on their sport if the league determines that the data is “necessary and desirable” for the scrutiny of game integrity. Operators are permitted to provide this data in anonymized form.
The final version of the regulations went through a few 11th-hour amendments after consultations with stakeholders. Policies regarding player self-exclusion registries were modified to exclude the requirement that bettors need to log on to a betting app to register for self-exclusion as some operators justifiably characterized this measure as holding the potential to subject bettors to unnecessary temptation.
Operators also managed to convince the state to do away with the requirement for them to submit marketing material before deploying it. They will, instead, be required to keep an archive of all material for the Lottery to examine at will.
An earlier proposal by the Lottery that required betting operators to display real-time data on total wagers accepted and odds calculation was also changed. This was due to operators contending that this measure would hamper app performance. Operators are now obliged to display only “the amount wagered on the bet” and “the odds at which the wager is offered.”