Sports betting bills sent to Virginia Governor

Legislation that would legalise sports wagering in the state of Virginia is one step away from becoming law.

Two pieces of legislation that would authorise sports wagering in the state of Virginia have been sent to Governor Ralph Northam where he will have the opportunity to sign them into law.

HB 896, which would legalise online and mobile sports betting, passed the House of Representatives on Sunday, March 8 with a vote of 59-35, after it passed the Senate on Saturday, March 7, with a vote of 33-5. On Sunday, the House also approved HB 4, which would permit land-based betting, with a cote of 60-35.

The state’s 2020 legislative session was set to end on March 7 but has gone into overtime so that both bills can progress. Both pieces of legislation will now be sent to the Governor for final approval and could come into law later this year.

What’s covered in HB 896?

According to the language in HB 896, if the bill is approved, market regulations must be finalized by September 15 and licences can be issued to operators 60 days once the regulations have been approved.

The bill charges the Virginia Lottery with the responsibility of regulating the state’s sports betting market and issuing licences to operators. The regulator will be able to issue between four and 12 licences, which each cost $250,000.

Under HB 896, a tax rate of 15% would be imposed on a licensee’s adjusted gross revenue. When the bill was initially introduced, the tax rate sat at 20%. The bill would also force the state lottery to create a voluntary exclusion program, which would allow consumers to exclude themselves from sports betting activity.

HB 896 would allow sports bettors to place wagers on professional sports but prohibits wagering on collegiate sporting events. The bill also states that official league data must be used for in-play sports wagering.

HB 4 details

The other piece of legislation, HB 4, would legalise five casinos in the state and each would be granted permission to open its own land-based sportsbook. These casinos would be able to apply for an online sports betting licence but these would not count towards the total number of licences covered in HB 896. These operators would be required to pay a fee of $15m once awarded a land-based licence.

HB 4 sets would tax operators on adjusted gross receipts and on the first $200m, operators would be taxed at a rate of 18%. Operators that exceed $200m, but not $400m, would instead be taxed at a rate of 23%. Operators with adjusted gross receipts over $400m would be taxed at a rate of 30%.

All tax revenue generated from sports betting in the state would be put into the Gaming Proceeds Fund.

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