In April 2020, Virginia Governor 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.
Only online sports betting will be legal in Virginia. Operators had the opportunity to apply for sports betting permits in October. Between four and 12 permits will be approved by the Lottery Board, which has up to 90 days to decide on the applications.
Five Virginia cities meet the criteria to host casinos. Those municipalities voted on November 3 on whether to allow casinos to operate in their city. Operators who build physical casinos will be given preference in getting sportsbook permits, but that probably won’t be known until next year.
Because of the timing issues, it’s presumed that the Lottery Board will only issue five or six sportsbook 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 not any formal relationship between casino operators and sports betting sites specified in Virginia’s gambling regulations.
In some states, sports betting sites can only be operated by entities that also have a physical casino presence. That is not a requirement in Virginia, but some of the sports betting permits will likely be granted to operators that will also have casinos, assuming that some or all of the approved cities vote to allow them.
Given the activity in other states, it isn’t difficult to identify who is likely to be in the mix when sports betting goes live in Virginia in early 2021. Based on recent activity in the states that already allow sports betting and future prospects, we’ve chosen five potential successful applicants for Virginia online sports betting permits.
DraftKings is already available for sports betting in eight states, so there’s no reason to believe that they won’t be a player in Virginia. Daily fantasy sports has been legal in Virginia for the last four years, so it already has a history with Virginia fantasy participants.
The mobile application was easy to install from the DraftKings website. It’s not necessary to have an account or be in a state that has legal sports betting to view the sportsbook, including lines and other betting opportunities.
The site offers betting on over 20 sports, and it is very easy to navigate. There are quick links for the more popular sports and casino offerings. All of the sports are available to easily scroll through on the home screen. DraftKings has several different betting options available, including in-game betting. That won’t be available for college sports under Virginia law. They offer game lines, team futures, and player futures.
For event wagering, you can bet singles, parlays, and round robins. Also available are a full array of proposition bets, including player props, game props, quarters, and halves. The sportsbook app includes casinos, pools, and daily fantasy links making for a very robust and user-friendly app. There are tabs to view in-game options and a summary of the player’s betting history.
Many user-defined settings are easily viewed and changed within the app. Overall, the site is easy to navigate, and DraftKings offers a wide variety of betting options with both domestic and international sports well represented.
Funding methods for DraftKings were not disclosed on the site without creating an account and making a deposit. Further research indicates that DraftKings accepts PayPal, major credit and debit cards, and direct transfers from your bank account.
FanDuel has also been offering legal fantasy sports gaming in Virginia since 2016. It offers 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.
The FanDuel mobile app was easily added to my iPhone from their website. DraftKings home page and user interface, as it was a little more difficult to get to all of the sports available for wagering on FanDuel. The site has 18 sports available for wagering, with several international options.
For some sports, FanDuel had alternative betting lines available and offered a tab that shows significant odds changes for events. The “Boosts” option was very informative to show line movements in reaction to news or just bettor activity. FanDuel offers game lines, same game parlays, and a variety of proposition bets, including player, quarter, and half props on football.
There is no casino option on the app. The funding methods for FanDuel are shown at the bottom of their site. The available options are demonstrated by PayPal, ACH, Visa, and Mastercard logos that are displayed.
BetMGM is available for use in seven states, with five more approved but not yet up and running. BetMGM is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC International to provide online betting platforms. The relationship with a major casino operator increases the chances for them to successfully apply for one of Virginia’s sports betting permits.
The online app that I was able to download was for the state of New Jersey. The app was easily added to my iPhone, but it was a little sluggish in its responsiveness.
BetMGM has 15 sports available for wagering. There was a wide array of bets, including a lot of NFL proposition possibilities, but they weren’t easy to locate on the app.
BetMGM utilizes the parlay generator feature that allows the player to put together a collection of bets, and the site will place odds on the parlay. The bets can be made across markets and for different events. It’s a great way to have some fun and possibly win some serious money if you feel strongly about an array of outcomes.
According to the help function, BetMGM accepts credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and bank transfers as funding methods for accounts.
BetRivers is available in four states and is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Rivers casinos in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It will likely be in the running for one of the permits in Virginia. The app I downloaded was specifically for the state of Illinois and was easily added to my iPhone.
There were 14 sports available for sports betting and what impressed me was the number of wagering options for the NFL games. Including alternative lines, parlays, game props, and player props, there were as many as 215 bets to choose from for a single game.
The site was responsive, and the sports are shown at the top of the home page, making it easy to navigate to particular wagers. The main page is clean and uncluttered. There is no online casino option on the Illinois application, but it may offer it on the sites for other states.
Funding options are limited, as online banking and PayPal are available methods to use for deposit. They don’t yet accept credit and debit cards, but the website indicates that it will be an option soon.
Caesars Entertainment, the world’s largest casino operator, continued a year of mergers and financial transactions by agreeing to purchase sports betting leader William Hill. The UK-based firm had already been operating sportsbooks at many Caesars properties, and the acquisition will create a gaming giant.
Now legal to use in three states, the Caesars Sportsbook app is one of my favorites as the home page includes options to show events by sport by day. For instance, if you want to see college football games for Saturday, you simply click on the football button, then choose Saturday, and the games with the line information are listed. From there, you just click on the bet you want.
Clicking on the game brings up all the other bets available, making it quick and easy to place wagers. The site design tends to fit the way bettors think about making a bet. Usually, we have an idea of the event, so the Caesars site makes it easy to get there.
While Caesars is in only three states with their online sportsbook, it’s hard to believe with their casino juggernaut and the William Hill acquisition that they won’t make a move in Virginia. With five possible cities, it would be surprising if one of the Caesars brands isn’t present in the state by the time all of the permits are granted.
Through geolocation technology, online sports betting applications can isolate your location. By doing so, they can determine if a potential bettor is in a location that allows them to make a wager using the app.
Whether it’s DraftKings, which has a single site that differentiates offerings based on location, or BetMGM, which has state-specific URLs, the same technology drives whether the bettor can make a wager. As the industry matures and more states approve online sports betting, we’re likely to see more integration among states.
Will we get to the sports betting version of Powerball, with a consortium of states consolidating under a pooled payout system? It’s too early to tell, but the lottery is a good indicator of how things might evolve in sports betting.
For the iPhone, it’s very easy to download the mobile sportsbook apps. In a matter of a few minutes, I was able to download all of the apps reviewed in this article. The process is the same as for any other applications, whether for an iPhone or an Android device.
After installing the application, each one has its process for establishing an account with unique login credentials. After that, placing a wager will only be possible if the player is within the approved geographic location.
Legal mobile sports betting provides many great advantages for the sports bettor. Smartphones have made any number of activities easier and more convenient. Sports betting is no different.
Live sports betting provides the opportunity to make wagers during events. Mobile technology makes it possible to keep up with the live-action and make wagers as lines are established based on the current action.
Current technology makes it possible for lines to be set on what happens on a particular series in football, or how long a relief pitcher will last in a baseball game, or even who scores the next goal in a hockey game. The best way to have access to those wagers is through a mobile sports betting application.
Yes, mobile sports betting is not only legal, but it’s the only way to bet on sports in Virginia legally. There will not be any physical sportsbooks in the state. If there are locations that are set aside for sports betting in casinos, the only wagers placed will be via online sports betting apps.
The earliest that sports betting apps for real money will launch is probably January 2021. The deadline for operators to submit applications for permits was October 31. The Lottery Board has up to 90 days to respond, which would be January 29. The Lottery Board may act sooner, but it would still be too late to implement in 2020.
Any sport offered by the site would be available to wager on. Betting on games involving Virginia college teams or any game taking place in the state is not allowed. The Olympics will also not be available for wagering.
You will not be able to use the sports betting sites to place wagers if you are outside of Virginia. You don’t have to be a Virginia resident, but you’ll need to be in the state to bet.
Online sportsbook operators use geolocation technology to determine whether you are located in an allowable location to use the site.