The Virginia Lottery estimated a sports betting handle of nearly $235 million in June on Wednesday based on unaudited figures compiled.
Should the number at least hold steady when it becomes official, it would represent a 3.5% increase from May’s wager total of close to $227 million. Virginia became the fastest state to reach $1 billion in sports wagering handle with May’s revenue report, reaching the benchmark in just four months and 11 days from launch in January.
While Virginia Lottery Deputy Director of Compliance Gina Smith did not recite any monthly figures, certain figures the agency has compiled and estimated for June were able to be derived based on slides during her presentation. One slide presented the state’s overall handle for six months at $1,327,081,387, allowing those who have access to previous reports the ability to do the math to arrive at June’s figure.
For example, Smith noted the Virginia Lottery’s total tax receipts since launch are $7,829,840. Based on previous figures, it means the state is set to receive nearly $2.3 million from the adjusted gaming revenue from its seven operators. Using that figure and the state’s 15% tax rate on AGR, an estimated $15.1 million was collected by the books. She added that the total amount of promotional play reached $45.5 million, which means there was approximately $4.5 million in gross gaming revenue generated in June.
Should the figures and math be accurate, operators would have posted an 8.37% hold for gross gaming revenue in June, which is nearly two full percentage points below the record 10.21% established in May. The lottery recorded a record $15.6 million in AGR that month, with June’s estimated total approximately a half million dollars shy.
Smith also presented a slide noting four of the seven operators — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and WynnBET — have made a tax payment of some sort since beginning operation in Virginia, while BetRivers, Caesars, and Unibet have not.
Unibet was the most recent operator to enter Virginia, launching April 28, and Smith expects both Golden Nugget and Penn National Gaming — which have already been granted licenses — to launch at some point in August. Smith added there is no timetable for Bally’s, which also has been approved, to begin accepting wagers.
The taxman cometh, albeit slowly
Despite quickly establishing itself as a top-eight market when it comes to generating handle, Virginia is still lagging when it comes to tax receipts for the state. That is not unexpected since operators woo bettors with heavy amounts of promotional play; the Virginia Lottery did not reach its first $1 million in tax receipts until its March report since operators reported a negative of AGR of nearly $6.5 million in January and February despite gross gaming revenue totaling more than $15.8 million.
FanDuel has accounted for more than half of operator tax payments at just shy of $4.7 million from the more than $7.8 million due the state. It is estimated FanDuel paid more than $1.4 million in taxes on its June AGR, which is believed to be close to $9.5 million based on the 15% tax rate.
BetMGM ($1.8 million) and DraftKings ($1.3 million) have also reached seven figures in tax payments, posting estimated AGR totals of $2.4 million and $3.2 million, respectively, for June. WynnBET’s tax bill to date is a more modest $14,927, with nearly half of that coming from June’s report after appearing to generate more than $42,000 in AGR.
New license spots and casino regulations passed
Smith noted the Virginia Lottery could award five additional sports betting licenses following Gov. Ralph Northam’s approval in late March of an updated version of the sports betting law in which casinos would not count against the cap of the state’s overall license total. She said there were 18 applications filed in a 16-day period in May for those five spots, which would bring the overall total to 17 licenses.
FanDuel’s license does not count against the total since it partnered with the Washington Football Team, and MLS soccer team D.C. United is eligible for a license with its team’s headquarters located in northern Virginia.
Speaking of casinos, the lottery board approved proposed permanent casino regulations that build upon the emergency regulations approved in February. Those regulations will be sent to Gov. Ralph Northam’s office for approval and then presented to the public for a 60-day comment period before potentially receiving final approval.
“The Lottery’s Gaming Compliance Department and Office of General Counsel have been diligently working to set up the regulatory and licensing framework to ensure casino gaming in Virginia is secure and transparent,” Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall said in a statement. “In this role, we see the lottery as the public’s watchdog, confirming that the law and regulations are followed, and the integrity of casino gambling is protected.”
Residents in Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Bristol have all approved land-based casinos for their respective cities. Richmond, which selected ONE Casino + Resort as its preferred operator in May, will have a voter referendum on the plan this November.