Virginia has officially become the fastest state to surpass $1 billion in sports wagers, achieving the feat despite wagers falling for the second month in a row in May.
According to PlayVirginia, which analyses the state’s gaming business, the record of $1.1 billion in wagers in just over four months is the latest indicator of how successful the Commonwealth’s debut of sports betting has been.
According to figures supplied by The Virginia Lottery, bettors in Virginia placed $227 million in wagers in May, down from $236.4 million in April. This translates to $7.3 million in wagers each day for the 31 days of May, down from $7.9 million per day for the 30 days of April.
Virginia began sports betting on January 21, shattering Tennessee’s record of $1 billion in sports betting in its sixth month.
According to Jessica Welman, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayVirginia: “The launch of sports betting in Virginia has gone about as smoothly as could have been expected.
“Launching just in time for the Super Bowl got the market off on the right foot. But the state’s sportsbooks still reached the $1bn milestone mostly without the benefit of football and during two months when sports betting typically slows. That makes the record all the more impressive.”
May’s 4 percent drop in wagering is consistent with what other major US sports betting markets did in April and May, usually two of the slowest months for sports betting.
Reduction in wagering
Virginia’s month-over-month reduction in wagering was bigger than New Jersey’s (increased 8.9 percent ), Indiana’s (up 7.6 percent ), Colorado’s (up 1.9 percent), and Iowa’s (down 2.9 percent), but shallower than Michigan’s (down 6.0 percent ), Tennessee’s (down 6.7 percent ), and Pennsylvania’s (down 6.7 percent ).
Although Virginia’s handle fell 22.1 percent in April, all of the country’s top ten markets had at least a 13 percent reduction in betting from March to April, with some as high as 30.5 percent.
Dann Stupp, analyst for PlayVirginia.com said: “The state’s best month came in March, exacerbating the slowdown, but Virginia is managing the offseason about as well as a young market could hope.
He added: “The playoff appearances by the Washington Wizards and Capitals in May were a help. But without a significant local draw over the next few months, sportsbooks will have to be innovative to keep bettors engaged.”
The gross gaming income in May was $23.2 million, up 19 percent from $19.4 million in April. Adjusted gross income increased to $15.7 million in May from $13.8 million in April, generating $2.4 million in state taxes, including $59,527 for problem gambling assistance. Sportsbooks have produced $85 million in total gaming revenue and $5.6 million in state taxes since their launch.
Sportsbooks will have to wait until the start of the football season to see another boom in wagering. With its ban on betting on in-state college teams, the state also missed a tiny opportunity to capitalise on Virginia’s appearance in the College World Series.
However, new opportunities will present themselves this summer, including the Olympics and the NBA Playoffs, which will be held later than normal. The launch of Barstool’s app is also expected to happen before football season.
“Virginia’s record-setting start has come in spite of its wagering ban on in-state college teams, which is essentially leaving money on the table,” Stupp said. “Hopefully the ban will eventually be addressed, but even with it Virginia’s young industry remains in excellent overall health.”