Virginia Lottery Board Gives the Green Light to Inaugural Sports Betting Regulation

Yesterday, the Virginia Lottery Board voted in favor of the state’s inaugural sports betting regulations after making some changes to respond to some big gambling platforms’ feedback. The watchdog, however, kept the ban on bets involving the Olympic Games.

The latest move clears the way for the state of Virginia to start accepting sports betting operators’ application in the middle of October, ahead of the new form of gambling’s official launch that is expected to take place at the beginning of 2021. Sports betting is set to be offered on online platforms and mobile betting applications, though it could possibly expand to a land-based form offered in Virginia’s retail casinos.

After the General Assembly of the state took a vote to make sports betting legal earlier in 2020, the Virginian Lottery was entitled with the responsibility to create a detailed set of regulations regarding the future functioning of the growing industry across the state. Kevin Hall, the Executive Director of the Lottery, has explained that creating such sports betting regulation within the current timeline was not easy and consumed a lot of the watchdog’s bandwidth over the summer.

Watchdog Makes Some Changes in Sports Betting Regulatory Framework

The state’s gambling industry took issue by using some elements of the proposed rules in Virginia, including the Olympic Games ban.

Under the provisions of the sports betting law passed in Virginia, betting on college sports games involving local teams and youth sports is suspended. According to Lottery officials, the rule banning customers from betting on sports involving underage athletes has created some problems associated with the Olympic Games’ events.

Currently, individuals under 18 years of age may not be included in many Olympic Games’ events, which has raised the concern of the Virginia Lottery how betting on such events would be allowed. As the Lottery’s deputy director, Gina Smith, explained, for the time being, there was no way for the Lottery to verify the age of every participant in the Olympic Games. Ms. Smith, however, suggested that the state’s General Assembly could modify the law in order to allow betting on such events before the 2021 Summer Olympics that are to take place in Tokyo.

A number of modifications were made by the Lottery to its regulations following some feedback received by sports betting operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings and Penn National Gaming. These changes include easing a rule under which betting platforms were required to submit all advertising materials to the Lottery for further approval. Under the final regulation, betting platforms are required to make their advertising and marketing materials available to the Virginia Lottery upon request.

A rule requiring the applications to include detailed real-time information regarding the total handle and the way odds were calculated for each bet was also changed. Under the revised rule, sports betting applications are only required to show the amount wagered, as well as the odds at which a certain bet is offered. Gambling companies had shared their concerns that a requirement for applications to show detailed calculations associated with each wager would be found overwhelming by users’ devices and cause performance slowdowns.

Furthermore, a requirement under which gamblers had been allowed to put themselves on a self-exclusion list by using sports betting applications was eliminated. The previous wording of the rule also gave the Virginia Lottery the responsibility for maintaining a central list of individuals who want to exclude themselves from gambling services in the state. Sports betting operators, however, had argued that it would not be wise for problem gamblers to be allowed to sign into a gambling app to suspend themselves from gambling, so this rule was eliminated, too.