VA January Sports Betting Handle Second-Best for Debut Month

Sports betting in Virginia took to a flying start after sportsbooks gobbled nearly $59 million in sports betting handle for just 11 days of operation in January.

Successful Debut Month

The Virginia Lottery released its monthly report revealing sports betting operators collected in January wagers amounting to $58.9 million, the second-highest monthly total in US history for a debut month, beaten only by Tennessee’s $131.4 million sports betting handle in November 2020.

Sports betting in Virginia launched officially on January 21, after Flutter Entertainment-owned sportsbook brand FanDuel secured an early entry to the state market via a deal with the Washington Football Team. A few days later, the other big boy is sports betting, Boston-based DraftKings followed suit and launched its sports betting app.

By the end of the month, BetMGM, the sports betting brand of Entain and MGM Resorts International joined the party just in time for the Super Bowl to become the fourth sports wagering operator in Virginia to go live, after BetRivers also launched mobile operations.

Currently, Virginia has 5 live sportsbooks as William Hill was the latest operator to launch in February, while many others are still waiting to receive final regulatory approval.

On the Path to Fulfill Its Potential

Top-flight sports betting operators were one of the factors which contributed to the industry flying start, according to analysts, due to the online-only nature of sports wagering legalized in the state. The second factor was that Virginia debuted ahead of conference championship games from the National Football League (NFL), as well as the Super Bowl, which ensured heavy betting interest from state residents.

Out of the $58.9 million of sports betting handle in January, sports wagering operators retained $3.6 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR), but due to the high expenditure incurred by heavy promotional activities, this was not enough for 3 of the state’s 4 operational sportsbooks to come up with an operating profit, hence combined adjusted gaming revenue was $3.2 million loss.

Promotion expenses in the first month with sports betting for the state also dampened Virginia’s tax revenue, $39,710, of which $38,718 will be allocated to the state’s general fund, but analysts firmly believe this was only the beginning of a market nowhere near its maturity.

As more operators launch their mobile apps, the market which is believed to have a potential of $5 billion in bets annually should quickly evolve, yet the start is more than promising showing signs the state is on its way to becoming one of the major sports betting jurisdictions in the US.

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