Two operators getting going
BetMGM Sportsbook has launched in Virginia, while Rush Street Interactive’s (RSI) BetRivers platform is about to go live. RSI tweeted about Thursday’s launch:
BetMGM is now the third operator to launch in the state after getting a temporary permit on Sunday to start accepting wagers. The operator, which is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain Plc, now has online sportsbooks in ten states. As part of its Virginia offering, bettors will get access to the MGM Resorts M life Rewards program.
BetRivers will offer live streaming of certain sporting events to bettors
RSI’s BetRivers brand is launching through its partnership with the Rivers Casino Portsmouth. The 20-year deal will also see BetRivers operate the retail sportsbook at the $300m property when it eventually opens its doors. As well as the usual betting markets, BetRivers will offer live streaming of certain sporting events to bettors. With the launch in Virginia, RSI will have online gambling sites live in eight different states.
A surprise launch in Virginia
Many people were caught by surprise when the Virginia Lottery launched online sports betting on January 21. FanDuel was the first sportsbook to go live, doing so on opening day. The DraftKings Sportsbook was the next operator to start accepting online sports bets in the state, opening for business on Sunday afternoon.
Virginia is set to be a significant state for sports betting as it has over 8.5 million residents, making it the 12th-most populated state in the US.
Battle for licenses
In all, 25 different companies submitted applications for online sports betting licenses in Virginia, though only a dozen mobile-only operators can get one. Delegate Mark Sickles submitted legislation a few weeks ago seeking to exclude the state’s five casinos from contributing to the 12-license cap.
If the bill is successful, a total of 17 licenses would be available, in addition to those coming through partnerships with local sports franchises. July is the earliest that this legislation could go into effect if it is approved.
The FanDuel Sportsbook was able to launch first because of its partnership with the Washington Football Team. It was able to get “substantial and preferential treatment” because the NFL franchise is headquartered in Virginia.