Virginia’s current sports betting bill prohibits platform providers from offering any wagering on in-state college athletic teams. However, a recent bill proposes to strike that prohibition and allow Virginia voters to bet on, or against, the college teams that reside within Old Dominion.
In a proposal that some believed would have little chance of seeing the light of day, SB 124 has now sailed through the state Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee with the next stop being the Senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee. And if you haven’t gathered the nature of the bill by now, it will allow Virginia bettors to wager on college and university D-1 teams that are located within the state’s borders.
If the bill ultimately passes, it will be a boom for online sportsbooks as teams like the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison, Old Dominion, George Mason, and Virginia Commonwealth University are all staples of the college football and/or basketball betting rotation in all other states but Virginia.
Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg is the sponsor of the bill and he is very much aware of how the previous effort to allow betting on in-state schools failed back in 2022. However, this year he believes the timing is right and the bill will successfully win approval in the legislature.
“I’m hopeful that with time having passed, we’ll be able to get another look at it, and we’ll be able to get it through,” VanValkenburg said.
Some of the trepidation about allowing betting on in-state collegiate events includes protecting the athletes from harassment from bettors if they fail to perform up to standards. But the truth of the matter is that, in this day and age of legal online and retail sports betting permeating the vast majority of the country, these collegiate athletes are exposed to that possibility from bettors in other states.
There is no saving the athletes from harassment as it can happen anywhere at any time.
But what Senator VanValkenburg’s bill does not eliminate is the prohibition on college prop betting, which pertains to all college games, regardless of their location. Prop betting on individual college athletes’ performances is generally outlawed in most jurisdictions, and the senator has no intention of changing that.
A direct benefit of permitting betting on in-state college sports teams would be the additional revenue derived from allowing those teams to be on the state’s mobile betting menus.
It is important to note that Virginia’s D-1 football and basketball programs hold national appeal and enjoy rabid fanbases. The devoted followings of these teams will certainly translate into the gambling realm which will increase the handle, revenues, and the state’s share of the profits.
Senator VanValkenburg is aware of this ancillary benefit. However, when asked if that was a major consideration in his decision to bring forth the bill, he said, “That’s a secondary benefit in this case. To be honest, I would be okay with our general fund not depending on gambling at all. For me, it’s mostly about the regulation and monitoring component of it.”