The Virginia Lottery said it expects Betway and 888 will launch sportsbooks in the state sometime during Q1 2022.
In a gaming compliance update issued Wednesday, the regulator said it was also reviewing three additional applications for mobile sports betting licenses. The VA Lottery said it expects to award additional licenses during the first six months of 2022.
Betway and 888 Holdings were both awarded licenses in late November. 888 said it will launch a Sports Illustrated (SI)-themed sportsbook in the Old Dominion.
The Lottery also said it was “currently reviewing an additional three operators and expects to award permits during the first half of the calendar year 2022.” True to form, the regulator maintained the secrecy it has shown to date and did not disclose who the operators were.
Plans by 888, Betway
Since announcing a partnership with SI’s parent company, Authentic Brands Group, last June, the UK-based gaming giant has been focused on launching an SI-themed sportsbook in multiple states. 888 launched SI Sportsbook in Colorado last September and pulled down its house brand sportsbook, 888sport, in New Jersey in December, with plans to relaunch as its SI Sportsbook in the Garden State. 888 is also planning to launch in Indiana and Iowa.
Virginia will be the sixth US state for Betway Sportsbook to launch in. Since there are currently no land-based casinos in VA, it will be the operator’s first state without a requirement that it enters into a partnership with such a facility. Betway Sportsbook is currently available in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The Lottery also awarded a sports betting license to PointsBet in late November, at the same time as the issuances to Betway and 888. PointsBet partnered with Colonial Downs Group to launch a sportsbook at Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent. PointsBet VA launched on December 12, 2021, bringing the number of operational sportsbooks in the Commonwealth to 11.
More VA Sportsbooks Possible
Virginia’s new gaming regimen authorizes the Lottery to issue up to four, but not more than 12, standalone sports betting licenses. It can also issue sports betting licenses for five land-based casinos. There currently aren’t any casinos in the state, but four — in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth — are in various stages of development. A fifth casino proposed for Richmond failed in a referendum last November.
Colonial Downs is permitted to have a license, but it counts against the cap of 12 standalone licenses. The law also stipulates that any major league sports franchise with its headquarters or home stadium in Virginia, under certain criteria, may also launch a sportsbook, but they would not count against the cap.
To date, the Lottery has issued 13 licenses in total, including 11 standalone licenses and two for land-based casinos. Of the 11 standalone sportsbooks, nine are live — the two not yet launched are Betway and SI Sportsbook. Also, of the 11 standalones, 10 are subject to the 12-sportsbook cap while one is exempt.
The nine standalone sportsbooks that are currently live and operating are Bally Bet, Barstool Sports, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Golden Nugget, PointsBet, Unibet and WynnBET. FanDuel does not count against the cap due to its partnership with the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which is based in Ashburn.
Some of the names of operators rumored to be interested in launching in Virginia include bet365, FOX Bet, Handle 19, theScore Bet, and US Bookmaking. Hard Rock is likely to be awarded a license in the future to operate a sportsbook from its proposed casino in Bristol.
Land-Based Casinos Coming
Wednesday’s gaming compliance update also included the status of two of the proposed land-based casinos in the state.
The Lottery said it has been meeting on a monthly basis with Hard Rock International over its plans to build the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol. “These meetings have included touring the Bristol location, reviewing and approving construction plans, and working with the various teams (e.g., security and surveillance) to discuss overall operations,” the Lottery said, adding that Hard Rock plans to open a temporary casino by the end of Q2 2022.
In Portsmouth, the Lottery said Rush Street Gaming — which owns the BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse brands — broke ground for Rivers Casino Portsmouth on December 7. The regulator said it plans to begin meeting monthly with Rush Street beginning this month.
The fourth future casino in Virginia is the HeadWaters Resort & Casino, which the Pamunkey Indian Tribe plans to build in Norfolk. It’s unclear which operator the tribe would partner with on a sportsbook.