Virginia Sports Betting
Online sports betting is now live in the state of Virginia. After a surprising turn of events, the Virginia General Assembly passed sports betting legislation in both its House and Senate on March 8th, 2020. The bills paved the way for what is now legal betting in-state both online and in approved retail settings.
Below we’ll break down all of the available information on sports betting in the Old Dominion. You’ve got questions – we’ve got answers.
Virginia Sports Betting General Information
Virginia sports betting hopefuls have long wondered what a legal market would look like, and now we know. Let’s take a look at the details of the state’s newly minted industry.
Who Can Bet on Sports in Virginia?
The principal qualifier is age. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but VA sportsbooks won’t accept bets from anyone that isn’t at least 21 years old. There are a few other restrictions though that should be noted. Virginia Lottery employees are not allowed to participate, athletes in events that are being offered at sportsbooks can’t make bets, and sports betting permit holders are also prohibited.
Thankfully Virginia does not require in-person registration, which can be a hindrance to industry growth. Bettors are able to create online sportsbook accounts from their computer or mobile device and get right to it.
The legislature deliberated for some time about whether or not to permit wagering on collegiate athletics. The House sought a complete ban on college wagering, while the Senate held the opposite opinion. They found a compromise in allowing wagers on college sports, but not on Virginia colleges. Sorry Cavaliers, Hokies, or JMU Dukes fans – they are off-limits for in-state bettors. College prop bets are also restricted.
Another notable addition, Virginia did elect to require sportsbooks to use official league data. Sportsbook operators in VA are required to use data directly from each sports leagues governing body in order to payout wagers.
Potential Virginia operators are required to pay a moderate sized application fee. They’ll also be taxed at 15% of gross revenue, which isn’t excessive. Overall, start up costs for Virginia sportsbooks are reasonable.
Virginia Online Sportsbooks
Virginia online sports betting officially began on January 21, 2021. The following sportsbooks are now active and accepting legal wagers in the state.
- License Partner: Washington Football Team
- Mobile Launch: January 21, 2021
FanDuel Sportsbook continued its nationwide spread, officially opening its doors (and the Virginia sports betting industry) on Jan. 21, 2021. The Washington Football team serves as the company’s licensing partner through its headquarters in Ashburn, VA.
FanDuel has gained national notoriety as a Daily Fantasy Sports site, however, its regulated sportsbook has served as a noteworthy second act. Known for plentiful promotions and excellent pricing, it regularly ranks as a top option in each state that it enters.
- License Partner: N/A
- Mobile Launch: January 24, 2021
DraftKings Sportsbook was the second online sportsbook to arrive in Virginia, just days behind FanDuel. DK offers a fantastic mobile betting experience with a cashier that ties in directly with the company’s leading DFS site.
- License Partner: N/A
- Mobile Launch: January 27, 2021
BetMGM is brought to you by Roar Digital, a joint venture between BetMGM International and GVC. BetMGM has invested a ton of resources into their online sportsbook in order to compete with the biggest names. BetMGM is worth checking out with their generous signup bonus, great lines and full slate of weekly promotional offerings.
- License Partner: Rivers Portsmouth
- Mobile Launch: January 27, 2021
BetRivers online sportsbook comes in as one of the most experienced sportsbooks in the US market being live in almost every legal state. BetRivers offers one of the most generous first deposit bonuses, great betting options and the iRewards loyalty program that allows you to earn points the more you play and turn those points in for bonus bets, 1x bonus cash and more.
- License Partner: Caesars Virginia
- Mobile Launch: February 3, 2021
Caesars Sportsbook, formerly William Hill, has experience in sports betting dating back to before World War II, and now Virginia has access to the sportsbook’s well-informed platform. With a great selection of available sports and a solid set of promotions to match, this sportsbook is worth adding to your home screen.
- License Partner: N/A
- Mobile Launch: April 28, 2021
Unibet arrived in Virginia in April 2021 with elite sports betting mobile apps, a host of promotions, and great support. The brand has an established reputation for both online sports betting and casino games around the world, and serves as a stellar choice for Virginians. Unibet does not have an in-state licensing partner, instead applying for and receiving its approval directly from the Virginia Lottery itself.
PENN Entertainment’s situation is one of the more interesting ones at this time, as the company has announced a partnership with ESPN. ESPN BET will soon be available in this state
The most recognizable sports entertainment brand in the United States is one of the biggest moves we’ve seen in an era with sports betting legal.
Fanatics Sportsbook (formerly PointsBet)
- License Partner: Colonial Downs
- Mobile Launch: December 15, 2021 (as PointsBet)
Fanatics Sportsbook launched in Virginia on November 21, 2023. The company purchased PointsBet earlier in the year and is gradually replacing it in the states where PointsBet operates. This means PointsBet is no more in VA. But that’s ok because Fanatics is a great option, filled with all the biggest betting markets and even has the FanCash rewards program available at the Fanatics clothing company. This is a great feature that is sure to be popular among bettors in VA.
- License Partner: N/A
- Mobile Launch: November 24, 2021
Bally’s has been buying up casinos in states where it then brings Bally Bet as its sportsbook. Virginia has no casinos to buy, so Bally Bet just showed up as a stand-alone license. Either way, this is good news for bettors in the state, because Bally Bet is a very nice sportsbook that should become popular among Virginia bettors.
Hard Rock Sportsbook
- License Partner: Hard Rock Casino
- Mobile Launch: March 31, 2022
Hard Rock is a brand known the world over. The brand is actually owned by the Seminole tribe in Florida, which is why Hard Rock Sportsbook was supposed to be the only sportsbook in that state. Hard Rock Sportsbook has come to a few other states as well, most notably New Jersey and Iowa, and is ready to bring its hip brand to Virginia in addition to opening a hip casino in Bristol that will include a retail sportsbook.
- License Partner: Online-only
- Mobile Launch: May 17, 2022
SI Sportsbook, named after Sports Illustrated, which is still a magazine that exists, was actually approved for a license in November 2021, but waited until May 2022 to go live. No reason for the delay has been given, but SI Sportsbook is still pretty small, so they might have had to get everything lined up in order to ensure a smooth rollout in Virginia. Regardless, this is good news for bettors, because SI Sportsbook is pretty solid and offers a compelling alternative when shopping for the best lines and promotions.
- License Partner: Online-only
- Mobile Launch: May 18, 2022
- License Partner: Online-only
- Mobile Launch: January 31, 2023
Bet365 is the newest sportsbook to enter the Virginia market. It opened for business on January 31, 2023 and seems to be finally serious about expanding its operations in the US. This is good news for bettors in VA and elsewhere, because bet365 is a great sportsbook that has an easy-to-use app and offers great prices on a huge variety of wagers.
- License Partner: Loudoun United FC (USL Soccer Team)
- Mobile Launch: February 1, 2023
Competition for the Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders are leased at their current stadium, FedEx Field in Maryland, through 2027. Uncertainty as to where the team will play beyond that has created an arms race of sorts as Maryland, D.C., and Virginia each attempt to court the team… and one of the biggest issues may be sports betting.
Washington Football owner Dan Synder has been upfront about his desire for the team to become a sports betting licensee, which was a driving force in Virginia’s push to legalize. Under its new law, any professional team headquartered in the state is allowed to offer sports betting and engage in industry partnerships. The Commanders wasted no time in doing so, joining up with FanDuel Sportsbook to launch Virginia’s very first legal betting service.
Washington D.C. has already approved legal sports betting city-wide, and Capital One Arena will be one of the first professional sports venue in the country to host a retail sportsbook. While the land may be at a premium, Washington D.C. is able to offer the team the sports betting options they desire.
In a seemingly direct response to progress in VA and D.C., Maryland unanimously approved a bill in its senate in March 2020 that would allow for statewide mobile and retail betting at approved locations, including sporting venues. Voters had their say in the November 2020 election – sports betting is a reality in MD now, too.
Where Washington Football ends up settling in a few years remains to be seen, but the sports betting landscape in the mid-Atlantic has been forever altered.
VA Online Sportsbook Banking Options
Generally speaking, funding a sports betting account in a regulated U.S. state is an easy process. Keep in mind that the cashier with each unique sportsbook will be different. Common methods found in Virginia include:
- Credit/Debit Card – usually Visa or MasterCard, though sometimes AMEX or Discover may be available
- Online Banking Transfer
- Wire Transfer
- Paper Check
- Cash at the Casino Cage
Virginia doesn’t currently have any casinos, though they are on the way. It may take a while for them to get set up, but bettors will eventually be permitted to deposit or withdraw in person at the casino cage, which is a major convenience.
Available Sports Betting Platforms
Mobile sports betting is typically conducted through three major platforms, all of which are approved in the Virginia market. They include:
- Android Apps
- iOS Apps
- Desktop Browsers
Sports betting can be conducted from anywhere via a desktop browser, you just need to visit your sportsbooks website. Before placing a wager you will be required to install a GPS plugin on your computer though, so it can confirm your location – you must be in the state of VA to place a bet.
Mobile apps are designed to give bettors access to a complete sportsbook experience, from sign up, to deposit, to placing a bet – all in one convenient place. iOS apps are typically found directly within the Apple app store – just search for the bookmaker you’re looking for. Android downloads are usually available on your chosen sportsbook’s website, or within the app store of your choosing.
Why You Should Bet on Regulated Sites
If you live in, or regularly frequent a U.S. state with regulated sports betting, they deserve your action. The positives far outweigh the potential negatives of using an offshore book or another third party.
First, books operating legally in the U.S. have been vetted by that state’s regulatory body and will adhere to its rules and conditions. In Virginia, the state lottery runs the show. Because of this government oversight, you’re guaranteed a safe, secure place to bet on sports. No one is going to run off with your cash.
Bank with Ease
If you’re using an offshore site, getting money on and off is a major concern, and conversely, something you never have to worry about with a regulated bookmaker. In VA bettors can easily fund their account with a credit card, e-wallet, pay in cash, etc. You don’t need to figure out how to securely buy and send cryptocurrency in order to bet on your favorite team. And when it’s time to withdraw, you know you’ll receive your funds in a timely fashion.
More Choice, Better Products
Virginia is home to multiple online sports betting operators, which means you’ll have plenty of options. Search around until you find the app you like best, the prices you want, or the right bonus offers. Plus, more choices bring better products to the market. If an operator isn’t bringing its “A” game, they are forced to up the ante or lose out on business!
If you’ve ever had a question with an offshore sports betting operation, you’ll know that customer support is typically hit or miss. Regulated sites never duck an issue, and can always provide assistance through multiple channels like phone, email, or live chat. You know where they’re headquartered and licensed, meaning there is accountability and transparency.
Virginia’s Gambling History
Virginia’s first foray into legal gambling took place in 1973, with the approval of charitable gaming. Charitable gaming covers things like bingo or poker tournaments where the proceeds directly benefit a charitable organization. These sorts of activities were originally regulated by local governments, but would eventually lead to the founding of the Department of Charitable Gaming in 2003.
The Virginia Lottery, which now serves as the regulatory body for sports betting in the state, was established in 1988. The VA Lottery now offers more than 100 different games including Mega Millions, Powerball, and Cash4Life, and is available at thousands of retail sites. All lottery proceeds, which total more than $1.5 million every day, feed directly into the public school system.
Horse racing has been a pillar of Virginia’s gambling culture since it was legalized in 1989. The principal horse racing location is Colonial Downs, which opened in 1997, and generates millions in revenue each year. The track temporarily closed in 2014 but reopened in 2019 under new ownership. Off-track betting sites are also permitted by state law.
In 2018 Virginia passed House Bill 1609, which permits betting on machines that are based on old horse races. While slot machines were not permitted, this ingenious workaround allowed for patrons to essentially wager on slot-like machines, except the event you’re betting on is actually a historic horse race. You don’t know which race it is when placing your bet, so there’s no way to look up the result. This unique game type opened up new avenues for Virginia bettors.
Daily fantasy sports had been operating in somewhat of a gray area throughout the U.S. – some considered it gambling, others did not. In March 2016 Virginia removed the doubt, signing the Fantasy Contests Act into law which officially gave license to sites like DraftKings and FanDuel to legally offer contests in the state. The Fantasy Contests Act was the first of its kind nationwide, and included official age requirements, license fees, and put the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service in charge of oversight.
On March 8th, 2020, Virginia passed sports betting bills in both its house and the senate. Following a few recommendations from the Governor, it is now law. The first legal sports bets were placed in Virginia on January 21, 2021.
Virginia Sports Betting FAQ
Is it legal to bet on sports in Virginia?
Yes it is! Legal sports betting has been signed, sealed and delivered. As of January 21, 2021, online wagers are being accepted throughout the state.
Who is the regulatory body in charge of sports betting in Virginia?
The Virginia Lottery is the sports betting authority in the state.
Is mobile sports betting legal in Virginia?
Yes it is. Virginia’s sports betting law permits mobile sports betting. You can wager from anywhere in the state using your mobile phone or tablet.
How old do you have to be to bet on sports in VA?
In Virginia the legal age for sports betting is 21.
At which casinos can I bet on sports in-person?
Virginia doesn’t have any active casinos at this time. However, in the process of legalizing sports betting in the state, they also opened the door for new casinos and retail sportsbooks. Expect to see brick-and-mortar casino sites equipped with sportsbooks open over the coming years.