Virginia Senate Delays College Sports Betting Bill Until 2025

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Fans of the Virginia Cavaliers watch from the stands during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Geoff Burke/Getty Images/AFP.

Virginia sports fans who are hoping to bet on their favorite college teams will have to wait until next year. A bill that would have legalized sports betting on Virginia colleges was pushed to the 2025 session by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Let’s explore the delay in more detail and examine its potential impact on Virginia’s top-rated online sportsbooks.

Legislative Odds

Sen. Schuyler VanValkenburg introduced SB 1230 in January. It aims to amend the existing law that allows sports betting in Virginia but prohibits betting on Virginia college sports and youth sports. It would remove this restriction and allow licensed operators to offer bets on college games involving Virginia teams.

The General Laws and Technology Committee approved it on January 24th with a 9-6 vote. However, SB 1230 faced opposition from some senators who expressed concerns about the potential impact of sports betting on college athletes and academic integrity. The bill was then referred to the Finance and Appropriations Committee, where it was continued to 2025 in a unanimous vote.

This type of bill isn’t new to the legislature; a similar proposal was presented during the 2022 session but was rejected by the House General Laws Committee.

Supporters Not Giving Up on College Betting Plan

Sen. VanValkenburg said he was disappointed by the outcome but vowed to continue working on the issue. He argued that sports betting on Virginia colleges is already happening illegally and that legalizing it would bring more revenue and regulation to the state.

“I think you see a lot of people who are still gambling on Virginia sports. They’re doing it in D.C., they’re doing it in Tennessee, they’re doing it illegally, they’re doing it through a friend and all of our surrounding states can gamble on Virginia universities,” VanValkenburg said during a meeting for the Gaming Subcommittee on January 23th. “So I think it’s good to bring it into the fold, I think it’s good for public safety, I think it’s the right thing to do for regulating the market.”

Brendan Dwyer, Director of Research and Distance Learning at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Sports Leadership, stated that there is only a minimal risk of players placing bets on their sporting events. He noted that NCAA bylaws explicitly prohibit coaches or players from engaging in betting on college sports.

At the same subcommittee meeting, during public comments, Todd Gathje from The Family Foundation expressed opposition to the bill, citing concerns that its passage might pave the way for future legislation permitting betting on high school sports. Others worry about player safety and the potential for confrontations between bettors and college athletes.

Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020 and launched its first online sportsbooks in January 2021.

Since then, the state has seen a rapid growth in sports betting activity, with over $1 billion wagered since its inception. However, Virginia sports bettors are still unable to place bets on local college teams, such as the Virginia Cavaliers, the Virginia Tech Hokies, or the Richmond Spiders.

The bill’s supporters hope that the situation will change in the future and that Virginia will join other states that allow betting on college sports, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana. Until then, Virginia sports fans will have to continue looking elsewhere for their college betting fix.