Virginia Sports Betting Off To Record Breaking Start

Virginia is off to the most prolific start in the history of US legal sports betting. The state’s sportsbooks produced $1,092,137,211 in betting handle through the end of May 2021, becoming the fastest state to clear the $1 billion handle mark in US history.

Sports betting in the Old Dominion launched on Jan. 21, 2021. The end of May marked the completion of the fourth full month of operations for Virginia’s sportsbooks, all of which are online sports betting platforms.

Virginia laws permit land-based sportsbooks, and retail books will come along with the completion of casinos currently under construction in Virginia. The fast start for Virginia sports betting, however, comes entirely from the success of mobile sports wagering apps.

Virginia sports betting revenue still has a long way to go to reach full maturity. The first half of 2021, however, points to big things from the state’s booming sports wagering market.

How Big Can Virginia Sports Betting Go?

Seven online sportsbooks operated in Virginia in May 2021. The state’s sports betting laws permit up to 12 different internet sports betting licenses.

With room for five more online sports betting brands in the market, the numbers realized in Virginia so far could be just a fraction of what’s possible for sports wagering in the state. In terms of 2021 mobile betting handle, Virginia ended May in contention with states like Nevada, Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana for a spot in the top five US mobile sports betting markets.

Much like Michigan, a coordinated launch of multiple online sportsbooks has served operators well in the Virginia. Five different brands launched within two weeks of each other in January and February.

By the first week of February, Virginia bettors enjoyed access to FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers, and William Hill Sportsbook. With the world’s top online sports betting platforms at their disposal, Virginia bettors responded with instant enthusiasm.

Virginia Betting Handle 2021

Chart by Visualizer

With the Super Bowl and March Madness headlining the US sports calendar, Virginia’s online sportsbooks generated $265.7 million in handle in February and hit the $304 million monthly handle mark in March.

April generally brings a slowdown in sports betting interest in the US, with the two biggest wagering events of the year in the rear-view mirror. April ($236.4 million) and May (just under $227 million) still saw Virginia’s mobile sports betting apps generate strong numbers.

Will Maryland Take A Piece Of The Virginia Sports Betting Pie?

Washington DC already offers legal sports betting, and another Virginia neighbor will launch its own sports wagering industry soon. Maryland is set to debut retail and online sports betting before the end of the year.

The Maryland sports betting industry could include up to 60 online sports betting brands, as well as an additional maximum of 40 retail sports betting licenses. It’s unlikely that 100 different sports betting brands will emerge in Maryland, and the online and retail brands will overlap significantly.

Still, Maryland gaming regulators have outlined an approach that could make the Old Line State the most ambitious and competitive sports betting market in the US. Will the debut of sports betting in Maryland correlate with a drop in betting handle in Virginia?

Both Virginia (8.5 million population) and Maryland (6.2 million) have the population and sports traditions in place for both states to thrive in the legal sports betting industry. Maryland’s sports betting legalization likely poses more of a threat to Washington DC, which has produced shockingly disappointing numbers since debuting in 2020.

Virginia, by its current pace, is on schedule to generate more than $2.6 billion in betting handle in 2021. This fall brings a full season of action for both the NFL and NCAA to Virginia bettors, however.

A $4 billion handle mark might not be too far out of reach for Virginia’s sports betting industry. As more states aim to legalize sports betting, they would do well to look to Virginia as the model for success during the nation’s current sports betting boom.

About the Author

Geoffrey Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.