Virginia bettors took advantage of their first opportunity to legally bet on regular season football by pouring in nearly $300m in wagers into Virginia’s sportsbooks in September, falling just short of the state record. In doing so, sportsbooks took in more gross gaming revenue than ever before, as the commonwealth neared the record for quickest state in US history to reach $2bn in lifetime wagers.
“Virginia has from the very beginning reached the higher end of expectations,” said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayVirginia.com. “What’s remarkable is that the state keeps reaching these milestones in record time, and until September the state’s sportsbooks had yet to enjoy a full month of football betting.”
Virginia’s online sportsbooks accepted $293.9m in bets in September, the second-most ever behind the $304.1m reached in March, according to data released Monday by The Virginia Lottery. Betting per day surged to $9.8m per day over the 30 days of September from $5.9m over the 31 days of August, when $182.4m in bets were made.
Gross gaming revenue rose 72.1 per cent to $30.9m from $18m in August, breaking the record $26.6m in revenue collected in March. Promotions whittled taxable revenue down to $10.3m for the month, yielding $1.6m in state taxes, including $38,937 for problem gambling support.
Since launching in January 2021, Virginia has produced $1.97bn in wagers and $175.9m in gross gaming revenue. New Jersey, now the nation’s largest market, was the quickest market to reach $2bn in lifetime revenue, doing it in 10 months. Having launched in late-January, Virginia’s market will top that record in October.
September’s surge was a direct result of the return of the NFL and a full month of college football. Football, and the NFL in particular, motivates bettors in a way that no other sport can. October should be even more lucrative with five weekends of pro and college football, in addition to baseball’s postseason and the return of the NBA.
“Virginia’s bettors responded to their first opportunity to bet on regular season football in exactly the way that was expected,” said Dann Stupp, lead analyst for PlayVirginia.com. “The next three months should bring a plethora of records, which will be a fitting close to a wildly successful first year for the state’s sportsbooks.”
Of the nine sports betting operators that currently live in the commonwealth, FanDuel has been the by far biggest driver of Virginia’s rapid expansion. According to data released last week by the Virginia Lottery Board, FanDuel has handled 45.4 per cent of the wagers made through the market’s first eight months.
FanDuel’s chief rival DraftKings has accounted for 26.1 per cent of the state’s total handle. BetMGM is third in market share with 17.9 per cent.
“FanDuel was first to the market and it used its partnership with the Washington Football Team to really propel it so far,” Stupp said. “The marketing might of FanDuel and DraftKings is a competitive advantage for both companies in every market. But Virginia is still young when it comes to legal sports betting, and it will continue to evolve.”