Last week, HB 1847 was pre-filed in the Virginia General Assembly. If passed, this measure would increase the number of licenses available in the state regarding sports betting. The industry is set to start this month in Virginia, and the new bill will not stop this from happening. The state still needs to approve applications for licensing before services can begin in the state.
Currently, in Virginia, there are only 14 total licenses up for grabs. The lottery is in charge of approving applications, and already 25 operators have applied. The goal is for the lottery to provide the first licenses over the next few weeks.
Jennifer Mullen, the Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations for the Virginia Lottery, told Sports Handle in an email that the first licenses for sports betting will be issued over the next few weeks. If the new bill is approved, it would take effect in July of this year, providing more operators to receive licensing in the future.
The new bill does not remove the cap that is in place, but it changes the definition in which sports betting locations and/or entities count towards the cap. The original sports betting law in the state, which was passed about a year ago, up to 12 licenses could be issues. However, licenses given to professional sports franchises would not count towards the cap. Yet, casino licensing does.
Changing with Language
Current law allows the state to provide up to 14 licenses, the 12 plus one for the Washington NFL team and the D.C. United MLS team. Four of the licenses must be connected to casinos popping up in Norfolk, Bristol, Portsmouth, and Danville.
With HB 1847, the casinos would no longer be the cap determination for the industry. The lottery would be able to issue four more permits. Any other professional sports teams that are headquartered in the state or play at least five regular-season games in Virginia, would have the opportunity to obtain licensing.
Several operators have already applied for licensing including PointsBet, BetMGM, and FanDuel. Other companies have market access via other deals. It is expected that we will see big names in the industry as it starts to move forward.