Beginner’s Guide To Sports Betting in Virginia

Online sports betting is now legal in Virginia but isn’t expected to go live until early 2021, though that is still well before any potential brick-and-mortar sportsbooks might open for business in the state. Four Virginia cities, meanwhile, have each voted to allow a casino, which could launch physical sportsbooks, but those openings are expected to be in late 2022 or 2023. Ahead of their launch, here’s our handy  sports betting guide for VA beginner sports bettors.

VA sports betting timeline & launch dates

In April 2020, Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law the bill that legalized sports betting in the commonwealth of Virginia. At the same time, Virginia also approved casino gambling in the state. The Virginia Lottery Board is responsible for the development and enforcement of the regulatory framework for casinos and sportsbooks.

From Oct. 15 to Oct. 31, the state accepted applications for online and mobile sports betting permits. The board will approve between four and 12 permits and is set to make its decision within 90 days.

On Nov. 3, four cities — Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth — approved casino referendums. A fifth Virginia city, Richmond, will vote on allowing a casino in 2021. Operators that build physical casinos will receive preference in getting sportsbook permits, but that probably won’t be known until next year.

Because of the timing issues, the Lottery Board may not initially approve its full allotment of sports betting permits so that casino operators will have an opportunity to apply at a later date. No partnerships between casinos and sportsbooks have been announced. There is no formal relationship between casino operators and sports betting sites specified in Virginia’s gambling regulations.

How to sign up at VA online sportsbooks

Since permits have yet to be granted, the details of the applications and who will be operating the online sportsbooks are not yet known. Based on similar activity in other states, we can assume many or all Virginia sportsbooks will have the same online operators.

For the iPhone and Android devices, it’s very easy to download the sportsbook apps, taking just a matter of minutes for all of the potential operators listed here. After you install the application, each sportsbook has its own process for establishing an account with unique login credentials. After that, placing a wager will only be possible if you are within state lines.

Best sports betting sites in Virginia

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKingsDraftKings is already available for sports betting in eight states, so there’s no reason to believe that it won’t be a player in Virginia. Daily fantasy sports contests have been legal in Virginia for the last four years, so DraftKings already has a history with the state.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuelFanDuel has also been offering legal DFS games in Virginia since 2016. It provides direct site availability or has partnered with a casino to allow access to sports bettors in eight states. As with DraftKings, it’s difficult to foresee a scenario where FanDuel won’t end up with one of the 12 permits that will be granted later this year.

PointsBet Sportsbook

points betPointsBet is available in four states and has inked a partnership with NBC Sports. The online sportsbook is robust and has a very user-friendly homepage with easy access to wagers with a minimum of navigation required. The co-branding with NBC could be a factor in its favor if it seeks a permit in Virginia.

Fox Bet Sportsbook

foxbetFox Bet Sportsbook is an approved operator in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It’s the sports betting arm of Fox Broadcasting, and just from a brand perspective has a huge name recognition advantage. It also has the broadcast network promotion to drive traffic to the site. If it successfully obtains a permit in Virginia, its NFL betting handle could be huge, driven by the NFL games broadcast on Fox.

Why bet on sports?

The only motivation to bet on sports that can be unequivocally and 100% fulfilled is to have fun. It definitely adds interest and excitement to the experience of watching sports.

Even if your favorite team is out of the race for a championship, there will still be a point spread to cover or over/under to bet on. It can add enjoyment or at least interest to something you’re going to watch anyway.

The bonus is that unless you are extremely unlucky, you’ll at least win some of the bets you make. It’s a way to stretch entertainment money with the chance to make it last for an extended period of time. Unless you are exceptionally talented or supremely lucky, putting your kid through college or paying for a vacation are probably not great reasons to bet on sports.

How do sports betting odds work?

Sports betting odds in the US are generally expressed as a number preceded by either a minus sign or a plus sign. The sign indicates how to interpret the number that follows. If the odds are negative — signifying a favorite — it means successful bettors would get back their original bet plus an amount less than the bet. A positive number — signifying an underdog — means a winner would receive the original bet plus an amount greater than the original bet.

Negative odds are the amount required for bettors to win $100. For instance, odds of -110 mean a bet of $110 is necessary to win $100, plus the original bet. Positive odds indicate the amount won on a $100 bet. For example, +170 means the winner gets $170 on a successful $100 bet, plus the original $100.

There are three primary wagers when betting on team sports: point spread bets, moneyline bets, and over/under or totals bets. In the point spread bet, the oddsmakers establish a favorite team and an estimated margin of victory. The wager is on whether the favorite will win by more than the spread amount or if the underdog will either win outright or lose by less than the spread.

In a point spread bet, the odds are generally around -110, regardless of which team you pick. The real odds are the spread amount, with the -110 representing the sportsbook’s take, or the “vig.” If the sportsbook can balance the amount bet on either side, it essentially takes 10% of the winning bets.

A moneyline bet is simply a wager on who wins the game outright. The favorite receives negative odds, while the underdog has positive odds. Totals bets, meanwhile, don’t care about the winner but concern themselves with the total points both teams score in a game or even the total wins or losses in a season. Bettors can choose if they think the final point total will be over or under a line that the sportsbooks set.

Common sports betting terms for new bettors

  • Underdog: The team or competitor that the betting line indicates is expected to lose the game or match. In a point spread bet, underdogs get points added to their actual total to determine a winner of the bet. The underdog’s spread is signified by a plus sign, such as Philadelphia Eagles +3.5.
  • Favorite: The team or competitor that the betting line shows is expected to win. In a point spread bet, favorites have points deducted from their actual total to determine a winner of the bet. The favorite’s spread is signified by a minus sign, such as Dallas Cowboys -3.5.
  • Over/under: This is the betting line on the total number of points, runs or goals that will be scored in the competition. A bet on the over, for example, will pay out if the actual total points are higher than the betting line.
  • Totals bet: This is another term for an over/under wager.
  • Point spread: The point differential between the favorite and the underdog. A bet on the favorite is saying that team will win by more than the spread. A bet on the underdog is on that team to win outright or keep the margin of a loss closer than the spread.
  • Sucker bet: A bet where the odds don’t correspond to the chances of the bet paying out.
  • Parlays/teasers: A parlay is when different bets are grouped together with an increased payout if all of the bets end up correct. For instance, a parlay could be moneyline wagers on two games and a wager on a third team to beat the spread in its game. To pay off, all three bets have to be right. A teaser is a parlay that allows you to move the lines to your advantage.
  • Pari-mutuel betting: This is a form of betting where the total wagers are divided among those making winning bets, less a fee for those managing the bets. It is most common in horse racing.
  • Betting systems: Betting systems are any combination of activities with the goal of creating a wagering advantage. Whether it’s an analytical system or a particular style of wagering, it can be referred to as a system. The players’ advantage is eventually countered by oddsmakers’ own systems, but short-term gains are possible.
  • Fading the public: This is when the bettor wagers against what the general consensus dictates, essentially betting with the house. Given that the house usually fares pretty well, it’s not a bad strategy.
  • Betting syndicate: When two or more people combine knowledge and money to make larger bets and potentially make smarter bets.

How sportsbooks make money

Sportsbook profitability is based on volume and also accurate and timely odds making. The goal is to attract equal betting amounts on either side of a betting line and take a small percentage of each bet made. This is especially apparent on point spread and over/under wagers. The odds are generally around -110 no matter how the player bets.

The first step is to attract the same amounts wagered on the favorite and the underdog. After an opening point spread is established, the sportsbook will adjust the odds — which usually start at -110 on each side — and potentially the point spread itself if it sees money unequally wagered on one side of the bet. The same is true of the over/under, with the odds and total point amount adjusted as necessary.

So if there is a little too much money bet on the favorite, for instance, the odds could get adjusted from -110 to -115. This would have two effects: decreasing the amount bet on the favorite because of the less attractive odds, and the book would be paying out less in the event of the favorite covering the spread.

With odds of -110 the most prevalent, the player needs to bet $110 to win $100. Assuming the wagers are about the same on both sides, the sportsbook takes the loser’s $110 and gives $100 to the winner, keeping $10.

In general, then, the more money wagered, the higher the profit for the sportsbook. The key is for it not to get caught owing a substantial amount of money on the wrong side of the bet. As an example, if a large wager is placed close to the time of the event, the sportsbook won’t be able to change the spread or the odds enough to mitigate its risk.

It could end up having to pay out to the winners more than it took in from the losers. Over time, those circumstances probably offset each other, with all other factors being equal.

For moneyline bets, the sportsbooks provide themselves another hedge against risk. The favorites, who win more often than not, almost always carry a higher negative amount than the positive odds of the underdogs. For instance, assume the favorite has odds of -265, and the underdog is at +225. A winning $10 bet on the favorite pays $3.77, while it pays $22.50 for the underdog.

The sportsbook makes money on the moneyline bets because the favorite wins a high percentage of the time, and there is more money bet on it than on the underdog. The risk for the sportsbook on the moneyline is when there is a large disparity in favor of the underdog, and there is a big upset in that event.

Importance of bankroll management in sports betting

Sports betting and gambling, in general, are age old forms of entertainment. Of course, the difference is that seeing a movie or going to an amusement park doesn’t present an opportunity to financially benefit from the experience.

Bankroll management, or budgeting, is an essential component to enjoying sports betting. With so many events and wagers available, it’s critical to set limits on how much you can wager. Betting at best is a 50/50 proposition, and with the house edges that are built-in, winning is difficult and should never be assumed.

Take a specific timeframe and decide how much to bet during that time. Prioritize bets, and if you win more than you lose, decide to bet more during that period or save it for later. A good philosophy is that winning is always unexpected. It shouldn’t be taken for granted.

How do I become a successful sports bettor?

While it’s certainly possible to win more than you lose while betting on sports, cautious optimism is a more prudent attitude to have. Casinos and online betting sites aren’t proliferating if it’s easy for players to profit.

The individual bettor faces some stiff headwinds when trying to profit from sports betting. To be successful, you need to follow some basic rules and be disciplined in doing so.

Be selective about what you bet on and research the event, teams and players involved. In a typical college football or basketball season, there are dozens of games available to wager on during each week. It’s almost impossible, even for large oddsmakers like William Hill, to get it right every time. By looking for opportunities for games with which you are familiar, you may find chances to win.

If someone is really serious about winning at sports betting, doing research and watching games from lesser college conferences is a way to go. Knowing that Central Michigan, for instance, is leading the nation in field goal defense could assist in making a point spread or over/under bet when the team takes on Michigan State in an early-season basketball game.

What sports can you bet on in Virginia?

According to the Virginia Lottery website, wagers will be permitted on professional sports and certain college sports, as well as wagers on the individual performance statistics of athletes in such sports and events. This clause is intended to include DFS and other fantasy games, although DFS has been legal in Virginia since 2016.

Sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR and various soccer leagues, will be available to bet on. College basketball and football will be available for wagering, but no teams from Virginia or games taking place in the state.

There are expected to be other popular sports included, particularly UFC, professional golf and tennis. The UFC generates a lot of interest, and parlay betting for its fight cards is very popular. For golf, the focus is generally on futures betting for the major tournaments, and it’s much the same for tennis. There will be no legal wagering allowed on the Olympics in Virginia.

The types of bets that sports bettors are familiar with and expect to find on a site will be allowed in Virginia. According to the Lottery Board, these include single-game bets, over-under bets, moneyline bets, teaser bets, parlays, pools, exchange wagering, in game bets, proposition bets and straight bets.

Common sports betting mistakes & how to avoid them

The biggest mistake a beginner can make is to think sports betting is different from other types of gambling. Just like any casino game, the house or sportsbook has a built-in advantage. Beginners might also assume that since they know sports or follow a particular team, they can find a way to beat the odds.

For a reality check, it’s a good idea to follow the money. If it’s such a great deal for the bettors, why are the parties on the other side so eager to get into the business, including large companies, leagues and states? The truth is, some people find a way to consistently win, but to assume that it’s the norm is not accurate.

Betting with your heart and expecting to win is a big mistake that beginners make. Making wagers as a fan to make the viewing experience more exciting is one thing, but thinking you’ll win because of unrealistic expectations for your favorite team is another. Recognize why you’re making the bet and whether winning it is realistic. Read more in our guide to the common sports betting mistakes to avoid.

Understanding mobile sports betting

Almost all online sportsbooks have apps for iPhone and Android devices. All of the wagering options available on a desktop computer or tablet are also there on a mobile phone.

It’s convenient, quick and available wherever you are. You can download and access the mobile betting applications just like any other app.

Top benefits of sports betting online

Online betting offers convenience and ease that physical sportsbook betting may not. Most sites provide multiple ways to fund a wagering account.

For state-licensed sites, they have to adhere to regulations that stipulate timely and reliable withdrawals. In addition, up to date lines are available, and, in many cases, it’s easy to shop lines by browsing among different state-licensed sites.