FanDuel Sportsbook will be the first to go live in Virginia and expects to be the only active online book over the weekend, a source confirmed to Sports Handle late Wednesday after a flurry of activity on Twitter pointed to the company going live Thursday.
A tweet went out at about 8 p.m. ET Wednesday indicating that FanDuel would be available to bettors in Virginia “in less than 24 hours,” but the tweet was soon taken down and then reposted to read “COMING SOON to VA.” Multiple sources later confirmed FanDuel has its go-live paperwork and is prepping for launch. FanDuel is among 25 applicants for up to 14 sports betting licenses in Virginia.
The Virginia Lottery had promised to post approvals as they were issued, but as of 11 p.m. ET Wednesday, no operators were listed as approved on its official website. Caesars/William Hill, Hard Rock, and Rush Street Gaming have market access via to-be-built casinos across the state, while FanDuel has a partnership with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, which has a practice facility in Virginia and is in the process of moving the team’s headquarters there.
Emails sent to customers announcing launch, as well
Besides the tweet, FanDuel reportedly sent emails to customers announcing that the site would be live on Thursday. At least one potential bettor tried logging in and got a message saying FanDuel wasn’t yet available for betting in Virginia late Wednesday night.
Virginia sports betting:
—FanDuel sent out an email that they go live tomorrow.
—There will be 12 licenses issued to providers, no announcement has been made yet about who got them
—Other major players have not received word yet about whether they’re approved
— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) January 21, 2021
It’s not the first time that FanDuel has had to backtrack after announcing the opportunity to wager. In April 2020, the West Virginia Lottery approved wagering on U.S. political races and FanDuel was the first to put up odds and begin taking bets. But less than hour after FanDuel opened the betting windows, they were closed when West Virginia regulators admitted they had “screwed up” and wagering on politics races was, in fact, illegal in the state.
If FanDuel is the only operator to launch and be live through the weekend, it will have the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend all to itself in Virginia. While no teams in the region will be playing, the company will certainly get plenty of action on the Kansas City-Buffalo AFC title game and the Tampa Bay-Green Bay NFC conference championship. It will also already be well positioned for one of the biggest betting weekends of the year — the Super Bowl — set for Feb. 7.
Multiple operators still awaiting approval
BetMGM, DraftKings, and PointsBet are among the other sportsbooks that previously acknowledged they have applied for sports betting licenses in Virginia. WynnBet is also betting on having market access via partnerships with NASCAR venues Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. But according to the Virginia Lottery, NASCAR venues do not get the same “preferred and substantial consideration” as pro sports franchises.
FanDuel will launch a stand-alone mobile platform in Virginia, where lawmakers legalized mobile-only sports betting last April. Since then, the lottery has been at a sprint to launch operators. It’s possible Virginia could beat Michigan to the punch — the latter’s gaming control board announced Tuesday that it would launch operators Friday.
If FanDuel goes live before Friday, Virginia would become the first state this year to launch operators and would join approximately one dozen other states with live, digital sports betting. Virginia is the ninth state where FanDuel will be live, and the company already lists Virginia as available.
FanDuel sportsbook is launching in Virginia tomorrow, meaning two of the bigger US states (Virginia and Michigan) are both going live this week. Nice start to 2021
— Adam Small (@AdamLoebSmall) January 21, 2021