Virginia Delegate Marcus Simon (D-District 53) jumped on the sports betting bandwagon Tuesday when he pre-filed a sports betting hill ahead of the start of the general assembly session. The session began Wednesday, and Simon’s bill is now the third filed in the state, and the second on the House side. All three have been filed by Democrats.
Simon’s bill, the “Virginia Electronic Sports Betting Law” is a departure from the previous two filings in that it focuses solely on “electronic sports betting,” rather than calling for brick-and-mortar venues.
The Virginia Lottery Board would be the regulatory body should the bill pass. HB 2210 calls for a 10 percent tax rate on adjusted gross revenue, a $5,000 application fee with an annual $1,000 renewal fee, and would prohibit betting on any college sports.
97% of revenue would go to problem gambling
Revenue derived by the state from sports betting would be allocated as follows: three percent to a newly created Sports Betting Operations Fund, which would be used cover the costs to the state of regulating sports betting, and 97 percent to the state’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund. Among states that have legalized sports betting or are hoping to, this bill would give vastly more money to treat problem gambling than any other.
Simon’s bill allows for mobile and internet sports betting throughout Virginia, and bettors would not be required to register for an account in person. From the text of the bill with regard to registering:
- Providing a verification form to be signed by the person and returned to the permit holder by postal mail, facsimile, or electronic scan;
- Requiring the person, in connection with a monetary transaction, to use a credit card, debit card, or other online payment system that provides notification of each discrete transaction to the primary account holder.
There is, in fact, no mention of brick-and-mortar venues. Virginia has no casinos, but does have several live horse-racing venues and off-track betting parlors. As bills have been filed in the state, one of the big questions has been where sports betting would take place.
Brick-and-mortar locations vs. mobile
Senator Chapman Petersen’s (D-District 34) bill would allow sports betting at horse-racing tracks, OTBs and, potentially other physical locations, but does not appear to allow for mobile and internet sports betting. Delegate Mark Sickles’ (D-District 43) bill would allow for a limited number of brick-and-mortar locations, but he’d prefer to see sports betting happen “on the iPhone.”
Simon’s bill would allow bettors to have only a single account through each electronic entity and would limit the amount an account holder could bet to $1,000 per month, unless an exemption is granted.
A permit holder shall not allow a sports bettor to wager more than $1,000 in any calendar month; however, a permit holder may establish and prominently publish procedures for temporarily or permanently increasing a sports bettor’s wager limit, at the request of the sports bettor, above $1,000 per calendar month.
With three bills filed before today’s general assembly opened, Virginia lawmakers clearly have sports betting on their minds. It appears that since the District of Columbia legalized sports betting on Dec. 18, mid-Atlantic states are beginning to feel more and more pressure to legalize. In the region, Delaware was the first state to launch after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, and since then, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have begun accepting sports bets.