Governor Of Virginia Requests Changes To Sports Betting Bill

The Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam took sports betting legislation back to the state legislature to add “technical changes,” one of the sponsors of the bill said on Sunday.

Sen. Jeremy McPike, a Democrat who serves the 29th District, said he expects the amendments to be taken up on April 22. He did not comment on the changes. One target when the legislature passed the bill was to have sports betting in effect by the end of the year, probably by the beginning of the NFL season.

Northam, a Democrat, had to sign the bill before midnight Saturday, have it signed into law without his signature, or have it sent back to the Democrat-controlled legislature to be amended. According to sources, he sent back a casino bill for modifications, and called for an amendment to a bill that decriminalises marijuana.

According to his office, Northam signed bills over the weekend to overhaul criminal justice, amend racial and derogatory language in the state’s assembly acts and grant local authorities the right to abolish or change Confederate monuments.

The General Assembly of Virginia extended its session to March 12 to enact legislation that legalises sports betting and casino gambling. Once it becomes law, Virginia will have some of the U.S.’s most sweeping gaming laws and the state is likely to have a wide market for sports betting.

The law was a major step for Virginia, which has traditionally been unfriendly to most forms of outside horse racing gambling. The casino bill authorises casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, but it will take longer for sports betting to start at the casinos, since each city will have to hold a November referendum to approve the casinos, reports claim.

The Legislation

A state that hasn’t even allowed casinos to sell conventional gaming but online and mobile sports betting. Any of the clauses that were submitted to Northam for signature in the legislation:

  • It taxes sports betting revenue at 15%.
  • It could allow for up to 10-12 operating licenses.
  • Allows the Virginia Lottery to regulate sports betting.
  • Betting on college sports outside of the Virginia schools would be legal. But it does not allow for betting on games involving Virginia colleges and does not allow prop bets on college sports.
  • The bill would also allow a professional sports franchise based in the state — and currently the Washington Redskins have their headquarters in Ashburn but are looking to build a new stadium in either Virginia, Maryland or D.C. — to open a physical sportsbook. It would not count against the total licenses allowed for other operators in the state. The team could offer in-stadium and online sports betting through a gaming partner.
  • Licensing fees are set at $250,000 for an initial three-year permit and $200,000 for three-year renewals.
  • Creates the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.

By taking the first bet, Virginia would possibly beat neighbouring Maryland too. While the Maryland law in the recent session legalised sports betting, it only requires the issue of sports betting to go to the electorate in a November referendum. If approved by voters, the General Assembly would also have to pass legislation implementing rules on sports betting. Washington, D.C. had been poised to take its first sports bets by April 1, but has postponed the introduction of the sports betting site because at this point there is no sports to play on.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder lobbied Virginia and Maryland to allow sports betting at a new stadium that he hopes would be constructed to replace obsolete FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.