Sports betting bill progresses in Virginia Senate

Lawmakers in Virginia are making progress on legalising sports wagering.

A piece of legislation that would permit sports betting in the state of Virginia has progressed through the legislature, while a competing sports betting bill has been rejected by the state Senate.

The bill, HB 896, was introduced by representative Mark Sickles and passed the Finance and Appropriations Committee in the state Senate on February 25.

The proposed legislation was introduced last month and has made quick progress considering that the current legislative session is set to end on 7 March.

What’s covered in the bill?

Should the bill succeed, it would legalise mobile sports wagering in the state of Virginia and would charge the Virginia Lottery with the responsibility of regulating the market.

The state lottery would be responsible for issuing licences to prospective operators in the state. The regulator will have to determine whether to offer a minimum of six, or a maximum of 10 licences which will run three years, each costing $250,000.

The proposed legislation suggests a tax rate of 15% on licensed operator’s adjusted gross revenue. When the bill was initially introduced the proposed tax rate sat at 20%.

Bettors in the state will be able to place bets on professional sporting events but not collegiate events. Virginians will need to be at least 21 years old to bet on sports and operators will be required to use official league data for in-play betting.

The Lottery will also establish a voluntary exclusion programme which will allow residents to request to be excluded from sports betting.

What happens now?

The bill managed to progress through the House on 10 February and has now cleared two of the state’s Senate committees.

Now that the bill has passed the Senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee, it must still go through a full vote in the Senate and then be sent back to the House. Once approved by the House, the bill will be sent to the Governor where they will have the opportunity to sign the bill into law.

The rejected bill

Although HB 896 progressed through the legislature, another bill, VA SB 384, was rejected by the Senate after previously clearing the Senate and House.

The House’s substitute for the bill, SB 384, which allowed betting on college sports received a vote of 36 against and three in favour.

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