Virginia sportsbooks hauled in more than $265m in wagers in what was the Commonwealth’s first full month of legal sports betting, extending one of the highest volume debuts in US history.
“Virginia’s debut has been overshadowed some by Michigan, but together the two states show just how far the U.S. has come,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayVirginia.com. “The nation’s major operators have the resources to engage bettors in new markets in ways that were impossible in the early days of legalization, which benefits later-comers like Virginia. Ultimately, that will mean a market that goes through fewer growing pains than some of the earlier adopters.”
Spurred by $19.6m in Super Bowl betting, matching PlayUSA.com projections for the state, Virginia sportsbooks collected $265.8m in wagers in February, according to official data released by The Virginia Lottery. That is up from $58.9m in January. The per-day handle nearly doubled to $9.5m per day through the 28 days of February from $5.4m per day in January, easily the largest month-over-month per day gain in the U.S. during the month.
Launched on consecutive days in January, Virginia and Michigan have now combined to take in $741.7 million in online bets so far. And with Michigan’s $301.9m in online bets in February, the two states represent No. 1 and No. 2 on the list of highest-volume first full months of legalised online sports betting in US history.
Virginia’s sportsbooks won $12.2m on February’s bets, up from $3.6m in January. Promotional credits again sapped much of the win, pushing combined adjusted gaming revenue to a $3.2m loss in adjusted gross revenue. The collective win yielded $300,593 taxes for the state.
Even more, new operators continue to enter the market, joining national heavyweights FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and BetRivers Online, which all launched in January. That includes William Hill, which launched just before the Super Bowl in February, and WynnBet, which opened ahead of March Madness, giving Virginians a more robust selection to choose from.
“The enthusiasm from bettors will eventually settle down, and sportsbooks will pull back a bit from this heavy promotional period,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayVirignia.com. “Ultimately, the goal in these early days for sportsbooks is to engage sports bettors, introduce them to their product, and begin building relationships that will act as the foundation. So far Virginia’s operators are doing just that.”
The growth in Virginia should continue in March, which includes the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. But Virginia may not be in as good a position as other states to capitalise on March Madness.
The Commonwealth had five schools reach the NCAA Tournament, but a state ban on wagering on in-state college teams and in-game wagering on college games in general could mute the results of what is traditionally the nation’s single-biggest sports betting holiday in the US.
“The NCAA tournament will bring significant interest in Virginia, but the restrictions will prevent a huge leap forward,” Ms. Welman said. “Removing those restrictions would really help get the most out of what still should be a big month next month. Regardless of what happens in March, Virginia is off to a great start by most any measure.”