Virginia is among the next states looking to go legal on the sports betting front after delegate Mark Sickles pre-filed bill HB 1638 this week for official viewing in the New Year. In essence, the bill seeks to introduce regulated online sports betting and, perhaps taking into account the absence of casinos in the state, contains no reference to terrestrial betting. Up to five three-year licenses will be made available to operators.
Potential operators will be required to invest $250,000 to apply for a license and pay a further $200,000 every three years by way of a renewal fee. Tax has provisionally been set at 15 per cent on gross gaming revenue.
Interestingly, the bill stipulates that those taxes will not go to state coffers. Instead they have been earmarked to fund protective measures for sports bettors/gamblers including research, education and treatment. The lack of any mention of terrestrial sports betting provision presumably at this stage rules out Virginia’s off track betting providers and bingo halls from offering sports wagering.
Neighboring West Virginia’s sports betting offer is already up and running, with a third sportsbook opening for business this week courtesy of William Hill at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Hancock County. But while the betting action has been frantic in the Mountain State, revenue and tax receipts have not met expectations. At current performance levels, the anticipated $5.5m in tax revenue from sports wagering in the first year could now come in as low as $1.2m.