Virginia Lottery Board approves sports betting regulations, brings Virginia closer to legal sports wagering

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(WFXR) — The Virginia Lottery Board announced Tuesday the formal approval of a regulatory framework for legal sports betting, meeting the Virginia General Assembly’s deadline for the sports wagering legislation adopted earlier in the year.

According to a statement released by the Virginia Lottery on Tuesday, Sept. 15, the statute authorizes at least four and at most 12 licenses for internet-only sports betting platforms, including additional preference for applicants who are partnered with a major league team either headquartered in Virginia or competing extensively in Virginia.

Officials say the legislation permits betting on most major league and college sports, but not on games featuring Virginia college and university teams. More specifically, people will reportedly be allowed to place wagers on professional sports, certain college sports, other sporting events, and the performance statistics of individual athletes.

The Virginia Lottery says license applications will be accepted between Oct. 15 and Oct. 31, with the statute providing officials 90 days to approve or deny a permit from the date of submission. Therefore, licensed mobile platforms could start offering legal sports wagering in Virginia by early 2021, officials say.

“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,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “A lot of helpful feedback was provided during the public comment period, and the updated regulations approved by the Lottery Board today incorporate many of the suggestions from stakeholders and citizens.”  

The sports betting regulations — including information about the rule-making process and timelines for when expanded gaming will become available in Virginia — can be viewed at www.vagamingregulations.com. In addition, officials say sample forms, user guides, and checklists to guide the detailed application submission process will be available in the coming days.

“We continue to be committed to building a regulatory structure around sports betting that is transparent, responsible and fair to consumers and athletes,” said Virginia Lottery Board Chairman Ferhan Hamid. “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.”

In addition to providing required fees and undergoing appropriate background investigations, the Virginia Lottery says applicants will also be assessed based on the following factors:

  • Experience in wagering activities in other jurisdictions
  • History and reputation for integrity and compliance with regulatory requirements in other jurisdictions
  • Ability to comply with proposed minimum internal controls
  • Appropriate procedures for detecting and reporting suspicious or illegal gambling activity

Under the specific consumer protections required by Virginia’s sports betting statute and regulations, officials say operators must utilize proven identity to verify online customers are at least 21 years old, as well as geolocation technology to verify customers are physically located in Virginia in order to legally place an online sports bet.

Furthermore, successful applicants are reportedly required to demonstrate a commitment to responsible gaming and a history of working to curb compulsive gambling, such as appropriate employee training programs.

“The Virginia Lottery has earned the public’s trust by operating with integrity and fairness for 32 years,” said Hall. “We take our commitment to responsible gaming seriously on the traditional lottery side of our business, and we will continue to uphold these same principles in our new regulatory role in expanded gaming.”

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