Virginia is for lovers, but it’s not for bettors.
Don’t worry, Virginian bettors, the state still has a robust online sports betting presence, with major national operators such as Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel, but the statement will soon be true when it comes to marketing language.
Thanks to a new state law, starting July 1, gaming companies in Virginia are prohibited from using the phrase “Virginia is for bettors” in marketing materials.
SB 96, a bill sponsored by Sen. Thomas Norment and Sen. John Cosgrove, aimed to prevent sportsbook operators and other gaming companies from playing off of the state’s “Virginia is for lovers” slogan. Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bill Monday, lending his support to the initiative, which also had widespread support in the House and Senate.
— The Virginia Mercury (@MercuryVirginia) February 10, 2022
“We’ve spent a lifetime trying to market ‘Virginia is for Lovers,’” Norment said in January. “I just felt it was trespassing on it.”
Any violation of the new law could result in a $50,000 fine. In all likelihood, the move won’t change much for sports betting companies operating in the state, as it’s easy enough to avoid using the phrase in marketing materials.
Some betting bills failed to become law
Norment’s bill was one of the few legislative efforts related to gaming and sports betting to be signed into law this session. A couple Virginia legislators tried to legalize in-state wagering on Virginia colleges and universities, but the effort failed in the House. It’ll be at least another year until Virginians can place legal in-state bets on UVA and Virginia Tech sporting events.
Another interesting bill, HB 1103, tried to prohibit sports betting operators from excluding bonuses and promotions from taxable revenue after the first year of betting activity. Much like the bills about college sports wagering, HB 1103 failed to get through a House committee.
One bill that did get through both chambers and was signed into law April 7 was HB 1108, which will add school instruction on gambling addiction to existing curriculum on drug and alcohol abuse.
Getting through the House’s General Laws Committee proved challenging for numerous bills, but SB 96 passed through the committee with relative ease.