Virginia To Review 25 iGaming Licenses

After expanding the parameters of legal gambling in March of this year, Virginia has now received 25 applications to operate mobile betting in the state. State laws stipulate that between 4 and 12 licenses may be granted to applicants, meaning that more than half will lose out on the opportunity to operate in the state. All applications were submitted within just 15 days, between October 15 and 30.

A vintage car and a colonial American flag outside of the Hard Times Café in Alexandria, Virginia.

Virginia was one of the first US states to expand legalization of gambling in 2020. ©GregFlakus/Pixabay

Virginia: Ahead Of This Year’s US Legalization Trend

Virginia proved itself to be ahead of the curve this year in the United States by expanding the parameters of legal gambling in March of this year, a decision made unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic which would later prove to be the greatest threat to the land-based gaming industry worldwide.

Since then, of course, states around the US have been racing to legalize gambling in a number of different forms. On Election Day alone, voters in more than four states approved significant alterations to existing gambling laws, most of which would allow for expansion of the local gambling industry and thus increased funding to state programs.

The Moves Made In March

In March, local legislators elected to legalize certain forms of gambling in the state, including iGaming, casinos, and additional provisions for legal slot machines. Prior to the passage of this legislation, Virginia had had some of the strictest rules in the country regarding gaming; one of the last states with an all-out gaming ban.

According to coverage at the time, the bill was pushed through the state legislature as five casinos were in talks to open across the state, but necessitated regulatory reconfiguration before doing so. These casinos were slated to be constructed in Portsmouth, Danville, Norfolk, Bristol, and Richmond.

The Latest Developments Come Right On Time

When the bill was initially proposed this past spring, legislators speculated that legal sports betting in the state could be realized by November. By mid-November, the Virginia Lottery unveiled that 25 different operators had applied to operate mobile sports betting in the state between just a two-week period of October 15 to 30.

According to decisions made by a General Assembly meeting earlier this year, between four and twelve operators shall be granted permission to operate in the state. It is unknown when the state regulators will make their decision. Additionally, certain operators have an advantage when it comes to securing a Virginia license.

A Loophole For Locals

If the state should select twelve operators but additional companies which are affiliated with local sports teams and franchises have also applied, these companies will be able to get a license to operate in Virginia, even if that means there are technically more than 12 operators being approved.

The Mystery Applicants

It has not yet been unveiled which operators have applied to secure a license to operate mobile sports betting in Virginia. However, local news coverage reported that the casinos in talks in Danville, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Norfolk have submitted applications on behalf of their operators in addition to their proposed land-based option.

This would mean that these operators will have a robust land-based gaming option within a fixed location in the state, but would also be able to supplement revenue through a mobile gaming option. As the pandemic rages on, this multifaceted approach is proving to be the future-facing option for gambling companies in an uncertain IRL economy.

Additionally, Kevin Hall, Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery, indicated that some of the applicants are not even located in the US. In a public statement, Hall commented on an overwhelming positive response in applications from companies located both within and outside of the US.

Some Likely Contenders?

As sports betting has been increasingly legalized in the United States, a couple of companies are consistently throwing their hats in the ring to be the champions of legal American online sports betting. Among these companies are DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.

DraftKings and FanDuel are particularly likely, as they have both been intimately involved in the regulatory processes ongoing in a number of different states. In Maryland, for one example, DraftKings and FanDuel invested a staggering combined $750,000 to a campaign known as “Vote Yes on Question 2,” which encouraged legal sports betting.

Similarly, BetMGM has been consistently growing its presence in the US, particularly as its parent company, MGM, has faced significant economic downturns as the pandemic continues. Most recently, BetMGM has secured coveted licenses to operate in both Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

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Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Virginia, US.

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