Virginia, which took its first regulated sportsbook on Jan.21, is ready when the May figures are released to set the state’s record for the fastest to hit $ 1 billion in bets.

There is an assortment of asterisks making this possible, including when Virginia launched (in 2021, when awareness of legal sports betting was much higher than it had been in states that launched in 2018 or 2019) and How? ‘Or’ What it launched (with online betting first, compared to other states that initially banked poor retail numbers).

Still, Virginia has taken $ 865.2 million in bets in its first three plus months and is poised to surpass the billion dollar mark in its fifth month, breaking a record currently held by the Tennessee, which hit 10 digits in its sixth month of regulation. action.

Ahead of the announcement of this milestone, it seems as reasonable a time as any to check out the early returns in Old Dominion, from a sportsbook, state, and betting operator perspective.

Cavaliers vs. Wolverines

In just over four months, seven mobile sports betting has launched in Virginia: FanDuel, DraftKings, BetRivers, BetMGM, William Hill, WynnBET, and most recently Unibet. At least three more are expected to arrive in the coming months, including bet365 and PointsBet, which has its “pre-launch” website up.

The most logical state to compare Virginia with is Michigan, as both states launched online sports betting almost simultaneously in January. The comparison is not perfect, however, as Michigan had been taking retail sports betting for almost a year at this time.

Yet the states are similar in size, with Michigan having just over 10 million people and Virginia just over 8.6 million. It is therefore far from being a composition of apples to oranges. Call it red apples to green apples.

Here’s a look at how the two states stack up against each other in terms of total sports betting management, revenue, and taxes paid to the state for the months of January through April:

2021 Full handle Returned Tax revenues
Virginia $ 865.2 million $ 61.8 million $ 3.2 million
Michigan $ 1.11 billion $ 59.7 million $ 1.4 million

Virginia’s population is 85.7% of Michigan’s, but its handful of bets is only 77.9% of Michigan’s in those four months. So, isn’t sports betting so popular in Virginia?

Since Michigan also offers retail bets and was able to take bets this way for 20 days in January before Virginia opened, it’s probably best to remove January from this equation. From February to April alone, Virginia’s betting handle was 84.1% that of Michigan, a number almost directly in line with their respective populations.

And as the table above shows, sports betting income is slightly higher in Virginia, and the 15% higher tax rate in Virginia means more money is going into state coffers – although considering how much these mobile sports betting tends to give back in promotions to attract customers in their first few months, the state has still raised a paltry sum so far.

The leader in sports betting in Virginia in the first four months, with 53% of the betting market share, is FanDuel. He presented a perfect example of this promotional maneuver that we see with his special “Spread the Love” reserved for customers in Virginia for a Washington Wizards game against Brooklyn Nets on January 31st. The line was inflated to Wizards +149 points – a bet not to lose – and FanDuel paid out $ 1.5 million in total to its customers.

FanDuel launched three days before rival DraftKings Sportsbook. Does the FanDuel team think this was the key to their early success in Virginia?

“Although the first launch was important, and we are grateful to the State for this opportunity,” said FanDuel Group Marketing Director Mike Raffensperger. American bets, “Our strong partnership with the Washington football team continues to contribute to our success. … Sports fans across the state have embraced the FanDuel Sportsbook, and our success has far exceeded our expectations.

A bettor and a funder intervene

Mark Sickles, sponsor of the sports betting bill at the Virginia House of Delegates, sees the pros and cons in early sports betting comebacks in Virginia.

“I’m a little disappointed with the state of Virginia’s revenue share. I was hoping for more than that, ”Sickles said Wednesday. “But in terms of the popularity of this one, I think we are successful in providing a regulated alternative to illegal sports betting. I think people like to use these apps. They are popular, as we thought.

“Yes, we encourage people to play – but we’ve been doing it for years with our lottery. Our lottery is extraordinarily profitable. It’s much more profitable than this sports betting business, by order of magnitude. But the fact that most of the money goes back to the players is something that appeals to the public.

American bets also spoke to a Virginia-based sports bettor who requested anonymity. He’s not a professional bettor, but he takes it seriously enough as a hobby and has used offshore sites in the past, before legalized betting started in his home country.

The bettor has funded accounts on five of the state’s seven books and says he has engaged in a roughly equal mix of single bets and chases of promotions (accompanied by promotions and opportunity boosts). ‘inter-site arbitration sometimes present). He says he’s noticed that the volume of “gimme” promotions – like the FanDuel Spread the Love offering – has declined from the first few weeks after launch, but other promotions have not declined significantly.

“Promotions tend to be event-driven, so every site has recently had all kinds of promotions for the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs,” the punter said. “There is still a significant volume of 20% profit increases and 25% increases in live betting in the game. BetMGM is offering a parlay boost every day, and DraftKings had a $ 25 bet for it. get a free bet of $ 5 each day of the NBA playoffs.

As for the overall customer experience as a bettor in Virginia, “it varies tremendously,” he said. “User interfaces vary enormously. It’s interesting – if I bet a parlay, only DraftKings and MGM will tell me with a green light or a red light, or a check mark, if I won or lost the individual games in my parlay. This stuff seems so basic.

“How can I see my transaction history? Which bets are open and which are not? How easy is it to find the markets I’m looking for? Each site varies. I find the inconsistencies extremely frustrating. And the things you can bet on vary. DraftKings is the only one who would give me props to score in a hockey game. FanDuel is the only one for something else.

“I tend to use DraftKings and William Hill the most, probably because I find them the easiest to navigate. Almost all of my in-game bets are made on these apps for this reason. I use them even though I know I sometimes lose a few points on other sports betting.

The bettor noted that he found the ease of depositing at regulated sites “not a problem”, and while he has yet to make withdrawals, he knows others who have. done, including an old school acquaintance who receives physical checks in the mail. – and I found the experience to be fluid.

To satiety

As any resident of any legal sports betting state knows – provided that said resident watches live television, listens to the radio or walks past billboards – one of the downsides of introducing regulated sports betting is the accompanying advertising.

It’s already a major topic of conversation in Virginia.

“If you watch live sports, all of the other TV commercials are for one of the sites,” the anonymous bettor from Virginia said. American bets. “They sponsor every sporting event that you see now on the rink or on the field. The billboards on the sides of freeways in Virginia are all gambling related. You can’t escape the publicity.

A tan April 21 Lottery Board Meeting, a participant expressed concern about the volume of advertising and wondered if state regulations could reduce this.

“The regulations don’t talk about the amount of marketing they’re allowed to do,” responded Gina Smith, deputy director of gaming compliance for Virginia Lottery. “However, there is something about this that if we think a trader is saturating the market, we can fix it. At this point, I think it’s really the start of the process, but we’re keeping an eye on it. .

“It’s new to the Commonwealth – everyone is trying to get into the game and advertise their product. But the director [Kevin Hall] and I’ve had conversations about it, and we’re monitoring the amount of publicity that’s being done. We’re also working with the responsible gaming folks, just to make sure it’s got the right message on it.

Sickles says his constituents have also shared negative comments with him.

“The comments that I personally get about sports betting are mostly about excess advertising,” he said. “And what I don’t know is if that will decrease over time when the markets are established. For now, it’s ubiquitous. But I’m a football fan, so I’m used to seeing that, where Betway is on the jerseys of some of the most famous football teams in Europe. So I have seen it in European sports for a long time. We’ll see how it goes here. I think it’s going to be part of our way of life in the future.

“The broadcast industry and the billboard industry, I wonder if they had any idea what the windfall was happening to them when [sports betting legislation] past. But they will be some of the industry’s strongest supporters as we continue. “

Photo by Ken Ruinard / USA Today Sports



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