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BETTING

Virginia Legislator Introduces Bill to Allow Betting on In-State College Teams

Jordan Minor and Ryan Dunn Virginia Cavaliers
Jordan Minor #22 and Ryan Dunn #13 of the Virginia Cavaliers celebrate in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP

A recent bill advanced in the Virginia legislature proposes eliminating the prohibition on wagering on in-state college athletic teams, which would ultimately boost revenues, but to what extent is not yet known.

Slight Change May Make Big Difference

Sports betting in Virginia launched a little over three years ago, and when it did, betting on in-state college teams was prohibited in the law. However, lawmakers are beginning to reconsider that clause which is why a new bill has been put forth by Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg in the form of VA SB124.

It is not as though betting on college teams is prohibited in Virginia, it only restricts betting on teams located within the state. But two major D-1 athletic programs are routinely included in betting menus across the nation including the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

However, several other Virginia schools also offer competitive D-1 teams like James Madison, Old Dominion, George Mason, and Virginia Commonwealth University that are also part and parcel of the collegiate sports betting cycle.

The Considerations

And while Senator VanValkenburg’s bill seeks to allow Virginia bettors to wager on or against the schools that reside within Old Dominion’s borders, it does not include any language that would lift the moratorium on college sports prop betting or youth sports. Those two prohibitions would remain intact, it is only the inclusion of in-state college and university teams to the betting menu that would change.

“You can ban it, but people are still going to do it,” VanValkenburg said. “The fear that this is going to corrupt or put pressure on Virginia athletes, that’s already there. We’re already living in that world.”

“People are still gambling on Virginia athletes legally when they gamble on other teams,” VanValkenburg added.

The bill has advanced to the Senate Gaming Committee and if it does get the green light, it could be steered to another committee for another look or go directly to the Senate floor for a vote. If the Senate approves it, the House would then get its turn to vote and, if successful, the bill would wind up on Governor Youngkin’s desk for his signature.

November Numbers

The sports betting business has been robust in Virginia, as evidenced by the $638.8 million handle in November 2023, which was up over 23% from the previous November. As we have seen in every state that has legalized and licensed online and retail sports betting, the overwhelming majority of the wagers are made digitally.

In November, approximately $632 million of the $638.8 million bet on sports came via online wagering, which represents nearly 99% of the total. This is one of the highest disparities in the nation but it is not an outlier as virtually all the states, with the exception of Nevada, where online and retail sports betting is legal show 90% or more being driven by mobile betting.

Ten operators posted positive adjusted gross revenues (AGR) for the month, which accounted for the $5.48 million in state taxes at a rate of 15% of the AGR. Approximately $5.3 million of that went to the state’s General Fund, while the remaining $137,000 was earmarked for the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

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