RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — On Wednesday, the Virginia Lottery Board announced the formal approval of initial regulations on casino gaming in the Commonwealth and provided an update on the recent launch of mobile sports betting.

According to a news release from Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Virginia Lottery and its Board were assigned regulatory oversight of expanded gaming in the 2020 General Assembly session, which encompasses land-based casinos, as well as licensing and regulation of mobile sports wagering.

As for casinos, lottery officials say the approved emergency regulations apply to proposed land-based casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, which were endorsed by voters in those localities in the November 2020 elections.

A fifth casino has also been proposed in Richmond, but it is pending a public referendum in November 2021, according to the Virginia Lottery.

The 2020 casino legislation reportedly required the adoption of an initial regulatory framework by April 2021.

The next steps involve the Virginia Lottery refining regulations, which officials say will provide an opportunity for public and stakeholder participation.

As part of the pre-certification process ahead of the referendum, the Virginia Lottery performed a preliminary assessment of each city’s preferred casino partner, focusing on the partners’ financial viability and experience in operating casinos in a regulated environment.

Lottery officials say they will conduct a comprehensive review of casino operators — such as criminal history and financial reviews of designated gaming operators — as applications for casino operating licenses are submitted.

In addition, regulatory mandates will reportedly specify internal controls, as well as on-site security and surveillance requirements. 

“The Lottery’s role as regulator is based on its three-decade track record as a respected and trusted gaming authority in the Commonwealth,” said Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery. “The Lottery’s professional staff and our Board will work to protect the public interest by ensuring the integrity of casino gaming through the strict enforcement of the law and our regulations.”

The approved emergency casino regulations are posted here

As for mobile sports wagering, according to the Virginia Lottery, live, legal sports wagering launched in the Commonwealth on Jan. 21, which includes five approved permit holders at this time with additional permits expected to be awarded soon.

Officials say those licensed operators include Betfair Interactive US LLC (d/b/a FanDuel) in conjunction with the Washington Football Team, Crown Virginia Gaming (Draft Kings), BetMGM, Portsmouth Gaming Holdings, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, and Caesars Virginia.

By law, the Virginia Lottery says operators are required to submit financial reports on total wagering activities by the 20th day of each month, which means the first reports will be due by Feb. 20.  

“In the seven months since sports betting was authorized by state law, the Virginia Lottery has crafted responsible regulations, accepted and reviewed applications, and awarded the first licenses to qualified operators,” said Hall. “We have built a regulatory program that protects consumers and ensures the integrity of legal sports wagering in Virginia.”

In addition to the expansion of gaming in the Commonwealth, Lottery Board members reportedly received an update on the possible record-breaking fiscal year for the agency.

Compared to the first half of the Fiscal Year 2020, sales increased by 37 percent to $1.4 billion during the first half of the Fiscal Year 2021, which runs from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.

The Virginia Lottery also says that total profits — which, by law, go toward K-12 public education in the Commonwealth — during the six-month period were up more than 20 percent from the previous year, reaching a total of $349.7 million.

Sales were driven by a variety of factors, including the launch of online iLottery games on July 1, 2020, according to officials

Games like Mega Millions, Powerball, Cash4Life, and more all-new, instant-win games were included in the online options.

Officials say this digital platform is shattering performance targets and recording $283 million in topline sales in the first six months of the fiscal year, making it the most successful launch in U.S. Lottery history.

“We have seen strong growth across our product portfolio, and we are very pleased to see that our experience with online sales confirms what’s been seen in other iLottery states: online sales make lottery products more relevant to digital consumers who place a premium on convenience,” Hall said. “Since launching iLottery last July, we’ve continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth at the retail counter, too. That’s great news for the good cause the Virginia Lottery supports: K-12 schools in the Commonwealth.”

You can check out the sports betting and casino regulations, information, and approvals by clicking here.