Two bills have been proposed in the Virginia State House of Delegates that would make significant changes to the sports betting market in the commonwealth. Virginia launched online sports betting in January 2021, after legalizing it in 2020. But nearly one year later, lawmakers see opportunities to make it even better.
The bills would make two sweeping changes to Virginia sports betting. One would allow betting on in-state college teams. The other would amend the law to disallow sportsbook operators from subtracting bonuses and promotions from taxable revenue.
Virginia In-State College Sports Betting
Most interesting to the average bettor is the substance of House Bill 1127, which has been introduced by Schuyler T. VanValkenburg of the 72nd District. The legislation would allow sports bettors in Virginia to wager on sporting events involving in-state colleges and universities. The bill says in summary as introduced to the House of Delegates:
“Allows betting, with the exception of proposition betting, on Virginia college sports. Under current law, betting other than proposition betting is allowed on all college sports except Virginia college sports.”
Currently, bettors are barred from placing any bets on Virginia-based college athletic events. The bill would remove that ban, but still, prohibit prop bets on in-state collegiate events. If passed, it would mean Virginia sports bettors could place wagers on next season’s Virginia Vs. Virginia Tech football game.
HB 1127 was introduced by VanValkenburg on Jan. 12 and awaits debate on the floor when the Virginia General Assembly begins its 2022 session on Jan. 19.
Virginia’s new governor, Glenn A. Youngkin, will be sworn in on Jan. 15 in Richmond. Youngkin ran on a platform of uniting the state after divisive political campaigns in Virginia. A private equity multi-millionaire, Youngkin supports legalized sports betting but has not come out publicly with a stance on in-state collegiate wagering. He has made it clear that he is in favor of making Richmond more efficient with taxpayer monies, and he’s said that the Virginia economy is “in the ditch.” His signature would be required on any legislation that changes sports betting in the commonwealth.
Virginia Lawmakers Seek Increase in Tax Rate on Sports Wagering
House Bill 1103, introduced by Mark Sickles of Virginia’s 43rd District, would require sportsbooks to halt the practice of removing the cost of bonuses and betting promos from their sports betting revenue. Sickles’ legislation would also prohibit operators from carrying negative losses from month-to-month financial reports when calculating their taxable income. The result would be more taxes to the Virginia Treasury.
The bill redefines “Adjusted gross revenue” as ‘gross revenue minus “All cash and the cash value of merchandise paid out as winnings to bettors, and the value of all allowable bonuses or promotions provided to patrons as an incentive to place or as a result of their having placed Internet sports betting wagers.”
The proposed change would increase the AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) for operators in Virginia and almost certainly earn more tax dollars for Virginia, barring any radical alterations by sportsbooks in their promo and bonus offerings. The bill maintains the tax on AGR from sports betting at 15%. Last October, more than $427 million in wagers was collected in Virginia in that one month alone.
Photo courtesy of Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire