Virginia officially launched its legal sports betting market at the end of January 2021, after legalizing it in April 2020. The state boasts more than a dozen mobile betting operators, some of which have partnered with professional sports franchises. However, the existing rules restrict wagering on in-state collegiate teams and prohibit prop betting on any in-state collegiate events, meaning that Virginia bettors cannot place wagers on Virginia college sports.
A proposal to remove this restriction, SB 124, was introduced by Sen. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg in January. Despite gaining traction, the proposal was postponed for the current year after a unanimous vote of 14-0 by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. This decision effectively ended the progress of SB 124 for the year, and it will be reviewed again next year.
VanValkenburg emphasized the benefits of the proposed legislation, stating that Virginia residents are already betting on in-state collegiate sports through illegal means, and legalizing such wagering would bring increased tax revenue to the state. In December, the total handle for sports betting in Virginia increased by nearly 26% year-over-year, with bettors wagering $633.2 million and resulting in $57.2 million in total adjusted gross revenue for operators and $8.5 million in tax revenue for Virginia.
However, opponents of the proposal voiced concerns about the potential negative impact of sports wagering on college athletes, citing fears about the integrity of events and the well-being of the athletes as reasons to oppose SB 124.
In summary, Virginia’s sports betting market has seen significant growth, but the proposed legislation to allow betting on in-state collegiate sports has been postponed for the year, with arguments both for and against the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a change.