Five sports books launch in Virginia in time for Super Bowl LV

What goes into making – and taking – a million dollar sports bet
Posted at 4:10 PM, Feb 03, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Five sports books have launched in time for Super Bowl LV this weekend.

FanDuel, Draft Kings, MGM, Caesars and Bet Rivers all are taking bets in time for the big game Sunday. Currently, the Kansas City Chiefs are three-point favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm and pent up demand for this industry right now. It adds a level of entertainment with watching sports," said Richard Schwartz, the President of Bet Rivers.

The General Assembly legalized sports betting last year and once regulations were put in place, it launched in January. There are some rules: You must be 21 or older, must be physically in Virginia, and you can't bet on Virginia college teams.

Virginians are expected to bet hundreds of millions of dollars on sports in 2021. On Wednesday morning, the Virginia Lottery Board got an update on the progress of sports betting. More companies are expected to get licenses in the coming weeks. Up to a dozen can get approval with additional licenses possible through partnerships with major league franchises.

"We are less than two weeks into this brave new world," said Kevin Hall, the Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery. "We have several qualified and licensed sports books that are in market, competing in Virginia under a responsible regulatory framework that has some strong consumer protections."

The companies are each offering different promotions and deals to get people to sign up for their betting platforms. "Players have choice, and you have to show them with the limited time to experience with them that you do things different," said Schwartz.

The parent company of Bet Rivers, Rush Street Gaming, is planning to build a casino in Portsmouth in the future. One day, sports betters will be able to cash out their winnings at the casino and then go play casino games.

"We're creating a lot of jobs. We're creating a lot of investment in the state of Virginia, and we're hopeful that's a reason for people to give us a try," said Schwartz.

The Virginia Lottery also has created a voluntary exclusion program if people with gambling problems want to prevent themselves from signing-up for a sports book. Some of the money generated by the sports books will also go to gambling addiction programs.