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When sports gambling comes to Virginia, some fans won't be allowed to bet on their favorite team

Orange Bowl Football
Posted at 1:19 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 13:19:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gambling on sports moved closer to reality in Virginia this week when the Virginia Lottery "formally approved a regulatory framework for legal sports wagering," a lottery spokesperson wrote in an email to media.

“We have received and evaluated several hundred comments and suggestions submitted by citizens, sports betting and casino operators, and most of the major professional sports leagues, including the NFL, MLB, NBA and the PGA,” Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall said.

Virginia plans to issue between four to 12 licenses to online sports betting businesses later this year.

"Under the legislation, betting will be permitted on most major league and college sports, although not on games featuring Virginia college and university teams," the email from the Virginia Lottery continued. "Consumers will be able to place wagers on professional sports, certain college sports, and other sporting events, as well as on the performance statistics of individual athletes."

Applications for the licenses will be accepted by the Lottery between October 15 and October 31, 2020.

Online betting in Virginia could start in early 2021, according to lottery officials.

“We continue to be committed to building a regulatory structure around sports betting that is transparent, responsible and fair to consumers and athletes,” Virginia Lottery Board Chairman Ferhan Hamid said. “Ultimately, our goal as the ‘referee’ of sports betting in the Commonwealth is to ensure a level playing field for providers and for Virginia consumers who choose to place a bet.”

The Virginia Lottery created this FAQ on the topic

Q: Can I place a legal sports bet today?

A: No, in Virginia you cannot place a legal sports bet until such time as sports betting platforms have been granted permits to operate in the Commonwealth.

Q: When will I be able to place a legal sports bet?

A: Legal sports betting in Virginia will not be available before mid-to-late December 2020, at the earliest.

Q: Where will I be able to place a legal sports bet?

A: All legal sports betting in Virginia will be conducted through the internet only.

Q: What can I place bets on?

A: When legal sports betting commences in the Commonwealth, wagers will be permitted on professional sports, certain college sports, and other sporting events, as well as wagers on the individual performance statistics of athletes in such sports and events. "Sports betting" includes any system or method of wagering approved by the Lottery, including single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools, exchange wagering, in-game wagering, in-play bets, proposition bets, and straight bets.

Q: Are there any categories of sports on which betting will be prohibited?

A: Yes. Betting will be prohibited on youth sports, in-game/proposition bets on any college sports, and on any Virginia college sports.

Q: Is anyone prohibited from placing bets?

A: Yes. The following persons are prohibited from sports betting: employees and Board members of the Lottery and any employee working on a contract with the Lottery related to sports betting. Any permit holder including their employees and relatives living in the same household are prohibited from placing a bet on their own platform but can place bets with other permit holders. Any competitor, coach, trainer, employee, or owner of a team in a professional or college sports event, or any referee for a professional or college sports event, shall be prohibited from placing a bet on any event in a league in which such person participates.

Q: How will I know which sports books are authorized to operate in Virginia?

A: You can consult the Lottery’s website for a list of authorized operators.

Q: Is there an age restriction for placing legal sports bets in Virginia?

A: Yes. You must be 21 years of age or older.

Q: Will the public have an opportunity to comment on the sports betting rules?

A: Yes. Enabling legislation states that the Board shall provide an opportunity for public comment on the regulations prior to adoption. Anyone interested in participating in the regulatory process should go to https://www.townhall.virginia.gov/ and follow the instructions to register as a Town Hall public user.

Q: Will my winnings be taxed?

A: Operators will be required to issue applicable tax forms to persons who meet the reporting threshold for income from sports betting.

Q: Do I have to go to a land-based facility to sign up for a sports betting account?

A: No, there is no in-person registration requirement to set up a sports betting account in Virginia. Sports betting in Virginia will be conducted through the internet only.

Q: What tools will be available to assist problem and compulsive gamblers?

A: The law establishes provisions for self-exclusion programs and funding for the state’s new Problem Gambling and Treatment and Support Fund. If you need assistance with a gambling problem, please call the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline, 888-532-3500 (toll free).

Q: Will the Lottery maintain a list of sports leagues upon which bets can be placed?

A: Yes. The list will be available on the Lottery’s website.

Q: Is there a process for adding a sports league to the approved list?

A: Any sports betting operator holding a permit in the Commonwealth of Virginia may submit a request to add a league under a process that will be established by regulation. The request will be subject to approval by the Lottery. For potential licensees:

Q: When will initial regulations be voted on by the Lottery Board?

A: The Lottery Board will hold a public meeting in mid-July (date TBD) to promulgate draft regulations. A 30-day, at minimum, public comment period will ensue. Final Board approval of regulations must occur before September 15, 2020.

Q: Will the Lottery hold a public comment period on the proposed regulations?

A: Yes. Enabling legislation states that the Board shall provide an opportunity for public comment on the regulations prior to adoption. Anyone interested in participating in the regulatory process should go to https://www.townhall.virginia.gov/ and follow the instructions to register as a Town Hall public user.

Q: What happens after the Lottery Board approves initial regulations?

A: Following final Board approval of regulations in September, the Lottery will begin accepting applications for sports betting permits.

Q: When will the Lottery begin accepting permit applications from sports betting operators?

A: The Lottery will begin accepting applications for sports betting permits in Fall 2020. Guidelines for the submission of such applications will be made available later in the year.

Q: How does a sports betting operator apply for a sports betting permit?

A: Guidelines for the submission of sports betting permit applications will be made available later in the year.

Q: How many permits will be issued?

A: Enabling legislation dictates that the Lottery shall issue no fewer than four permits and no more than 12. A permit shall not count toward this minimum if it (i) is issued pursuant to an applicable major league sports franchise or to the operator of a major league facility or (ii) is issued to an applicant that operates or intends to operate a casino gaming establishment. A permit shall not count toward this maximum if it is issued pursuant to an applicable major league sports franchise or to the operator of a major league facility.

Q: What is the timeframe for the issuance of a decision on a sports betting permit?

A: The Lottery will issue a permit decision within 90 days of receipt of a completed application.

Q: What level of personnel licensing will exist, and what qualifications will be required for each?

A: Requirements for licensure not addressed in the enabling legislation will be provided for in the regulations.

Q: Will the sports betting operator’s platform undergo a certification process before go-live in Virginia?

A: Yes, platform testing and certification will be required before the platform is accessible to the public.

Q: What licensing requirements will apply to the entities involved in sports wagering and supporting services?

A: Permit holders, key personnel, and supporting services will undergo thorough financial and character background investigations to ensure suitability to operate a gaming platform in Virginia.

Q: What is the tax rate imposed on adjusted gross revenue from sports betting?

A: There shall be imposed a tax of 15% on a permit holder's adjusted gross revenue. The tax revenue will be distributed as follows: 2.5% to the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund; the remaining 97.5% to the Commonwealth’s general fund.