Virginia sportsbooks make impressive debut with nearly $60m in wagers

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Virginia’s sportsbooks are off to an impressive start after collecting nearly $60m in wagers in the first 11 days after the market launched on January 21, the second-highest monthly total in US history for any state in its first month of legal sports betting, according to PlayVirginia

According to official data released by the Virginia Lottery, the state’s sportsbooks generated $58.9m in handle in January. Only neighboring Tennessee, which drew $131.4m in bets in the 30 days after launching on November 1, generated more than Virginia in its debut month, though Virginia topped Tennessee’ per-day total. 

Michigan, which opened retail sports betting in 2020, collected $150.8m in January after launching online sports betting for the first time on Jan. 21. 

“Like its neighbor in Tennessee, Virginia’s online-only market had some advantages that helped fuel such a successful launch,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for “Debuting ahead of the NFL’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl ensured there would be heavy interest from bettors.

“In addition, launching with top-flight sportsbook operators in place to serve a market with years of pent-up demand is a recipe for success.” 

Virginia’s sportsbooks won $3.6m in gross gaming revenue on January’s bets. But with an expectedly heavy early promotional push, three of the state’s four sportsbooks lost money. That put combined adjusted gaming revenue at a $3.2m loss.

The promotional credits dampened the state’s take, which was $39,710 and includes a $38,718 infusion in the state’s general fund.

“The relatively small injection in tax dollars is eye-catching, but significant promotional expenses are a given in a market’s first few days,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for

“We saw the very same dynamic play out in the first days of Michigan’s online market, as well. The bottom line is that Virginia’s market is off to a good start, with significant interest from bettors across the state. That will certainly pay off for the state in coming months.”

Virginia’s market launched with the biggest operators in the US at the ready. FanDuel went live on January 21, and DraftKings and BetMGM opened days later on January 24. BetRivers jumped in the fray on January 26. William Hill launched in February, and more are expected soon. 

But that is just the opening salvo for Virginia’s sports betting market, which PlayVirginia expects will grow to generate some $5bn in annual bets at maturity.

“This was a great start for Virginia, but it’s important to remember that this is just the first few days of the market,” Welman said. “More operators will launch in Virginia and the market should quickly evolve. But in just a few days, it’s clear that Virginia is on its way to becoming one of just a handful of major US markets once it reaches maturity.”