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Jerome García February 9, 2024 3 min read
Senate Committee in Virginia Postpones Collegiate Betting Bill
The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to continue the bill to 2025, effectively ending its progress for the current year
After legalizing sports betting in April 2020, Virginia officially launched its legal market near the end of January 2021. There are currently more than a dozen mobile betting operators, some of which have joined forces with professional sports franchises in the state. Yet, under the existing rules for sports betting, Virginia restricts wagering on in-state collegiate teams as well as prop betting on any such collegiate events. This otherwise means that bettors in the state can place wagers on collegiate sports, except for Virginia college sports.
Last month, SB 124 was filed, a proposal that called for removing the restriction that prohibits betting on in-state college sports in Virginia. The proposal was introduced by Sen. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg early in January and has been gaining traction after it was referred to the Committee on General Laws and Technology and then to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee in mid-January. Despite the traction, SB 124 was postponed, at least for the current year after a vote of the Finance and Appropriations Committee.
The Committee voted on the proposal earlier this week. In a unanimous decision of 14-0, the Committee decided to review the bill once again next year. In other words, SB 124 was continued to 2025, effectively ending its progress for this year.
Collegiate Sports Betting to Raise More Tax Revenue
VanValkenburg, who was recently quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, spoke about the benefits of the proposed legislation. He explained that residents of Virginia are already placing wagers on in-state collegiate sports, but this process is either done via unlicensed operators or out of state. According to SB 124’s sponsor, the bill would bring benefits for the state as it will allow legal wagering on collegiate events while at the same time, benefiting from increased tax revenue.
“Virginia folks are already gambling on (collegiate) sports. They’re doing it illegally. They’re doing it through friends in other states.“Sen. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg
The latest data released by the Virginia Lottery reveals that the total handle for sports betting in December increased by nearly 26% year-over-year. For December, bettors in the state wagered $633.2 million, a result that was 25.9% year-over-year. The total adjusted gross revenue for mobile and retail betting operators was $57.2 million, resulting in $8.5 million in tax revenue for Virginia.
Despite VanValkenburg’s prediction of extra tax revenue, not everyone agrees with his proposal. Opponents of the proposal voiced their concerns about the negative impact of sports wagering on college athletes. Fears about the integrity of such events and the potential negative impact on the athletes are among the top concerns of the opponents of SB 124.