Virginia Prepares for Legal Sports Betting, Maryland Referendum in November

2020 has been a big year for legalized sports betting, with markets going live in many major states. And while we won’t likely see another market open this year, 2021 looks to be potentially busy again on this front.

Today we have news from two states – Virginia, where sports betting has been legalized and the action should start in early 2021, and Maryland, where voters will have a chance to pass a bill in a November referendum.

Read on to find out the details!

Virginia Lottery approves betting regulations

The bills to legalize sports betting in Virginia were passed over to Governor Ralph Northam for signing into legislation, but since then the regulatory process has been slow.

The bills were finally signed into law during the summer, and another huge step was taken recently as the Virginia Lottery decided to approve the sports betting regulations that were up for public commenting for almost two months.

Sportsbooks can apply for permits in the state between October 15 and 31, after which regulators can take up to 90 days to decide whether or not to approve an application. Considering this timeline, fans in Virginia should expect to see the legal sports betting market go live in early 2021.

The state will grant up to 12 licenses for online sportsbooks. Additionally, the new legislation allows building casinos in the municipalities of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, and up to five casino-based retail sportsbooks will eventually be allowed.

The sports betting revenue tax is set at 15% in Virginia, and sportsbooks will have to pay a $250,000 fee for their first three years of operation in the state.

The interest towards the online sportsbook licenses has been significant in the 12th most populous state in the country. According to reports, all of the major players, including FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars / William Hill will be applying for licenses, along with BetMGM, Penn Interactive, Rush Street, Handle 19, Hard Rock, theScore Bet and USBookmaking. Caesars and Rush Street have also indicated their interest in opening casinos in Virginia.

It looks like there will be a lively and competitive mobile betting market available in the state in time for the Super Bowl.

In an interesting development, Virginia regulators decided to cater to the wishes of the MLB, the NBA and the PGA Tour by offering real-time sports betting data to the leagues. The state lottery decided that providing specific details by request on individual bets to the leagues is a necessity to make sure that sports betting does not threaten the integrity of sports.

The approved regulations in the state allow betting on NCAA games, but with the exception of Virginia-based colleges. Betting on the Olympics will not be allowed.

Maryland betting referendum in November

Legislators in Maryland decided not to pass a sports betting bill this year, but instead opted for putting the topic up for a referendum that will take place in November. If the people in the state will vote in favor of legal sports betting, the decision makers in the state will iron out the details in 2021.

Surrounded by legal sports betting markets in neighboring Washington D.C., West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and soon Virginia, there is a growing fear in the state for losing out on significant tax revenues if sports betting is not legalized

The referendum text focused on revenues being used for funding education:

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?

FanDuel and DraftKings have been involved in an ad campaign in the state that promoted this aspect, claiming that legal sports betting could generate up to $40 million in annual tax revenues in Maryland. The two companies reportedly funded the campaign with a $750,000 contribution.

It currently looks like sportsbook licenses will be granted through the casinos operating in the state. The tax for sports betting revenue is expected to be at 20%, and operators are most likely looking at hefty licensing fees starting from $1.5 million to enter the market.

While the details are still rather vague, we are hoping for a positive outcome on the referendum and will keep our eye out on developments in the state.

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