Sports Betting App Launches In Virginia, With More Soon To Come FanDuel Sportsbook, a sports betting app, quietly launched Thursday afternoon, becoming the first legal means to wager on sports in the commonwealth.
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Sports Betting App Launches In Virginia, With More Soon To Come

FanDuel is the first sports betting app in Virginia, the second jurisdiction in the Washington region to allow fans to wager on their favorite team or player. Martin Austermuhle/WAMU/DCist hide caption

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Martin Austermuhle/WAMU/DCist

Sports fans throughout Virginia can now legally place bets on their favorite team or game.

FanDuel Sportsbook, a sports betting app, quietly launched Thursday afternoon, becoming the first legal means to wager on sports in the commonwealth since the General Assembly cleared the way for sports betting last year.

And more apps are on the way, says Jennifer Mullen, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Lottery, which will oversee the sports betting as it rolls out digitally and eventually in brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at designated casinos and professional sports facilities.

"Decisions on additional permit awards are imminent, and we anticipate more than one sportsbook will be in position to begin accepting legal wagers from Virginians in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7th," she wrote in an email.

FanDuel got a jump on the competition because of its partnership with the Washington Football Team; a quirk in the law that offers pro sports teams "substantial and preferred consideration" in opening a sportsbook if they partner with an established operator.

Team owner Dan Snyder pushed last year for sports betting to be legalized in both Maryland and Virginia, saying that having a legal sports book would be critical to the team's final decision on where to locate a new stadium. Maryland voters legalized sports betting in a November referendum, but lawmakers still have to work out the rules of the program and issue licenses to operators.

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Sports betting has been legalized in more than two dozen states since the Supreme Court overturned a federal law in May 2018 that prohibited wagering on sports. D.C. was first in the Washington region, legalizing sports betting in late 2018 as a means to corner some of the revenue from local sports fans.

Different states have adopted varying models; some only allow in-person betting, many allow betting via mobile apps. Locally, those differences are on display: while D.C. has both in-person and mobile betting, lawmakers opted to give the D.C. Lottery a monopoly on creating a sports betting app that could be used anywhere in the city. That app, GambetDC, launched last year to mixed reviews, taking in fewer bets than the brick-and-mortar William Hill sportsbook at the Capital One Arena. (It now offers online betting, but only within the confines of the physical location because of city regulations.)

Analysts expect that betting will pick up on GambetDC, but the potential for multiple sports betting apps just across the river in Northern Virginia could put another dent in revenue projections. Those projections already took a hit because of the pandemic's cancellation of many professional games last year.

In Virginia, the lottery is expected to grant up to 12 licenses to operators, and other national players like MGM, Draft Kings, Barstool Sports and Wynn are expected to win permission to take bets in the coming weeks. Brick-and-mortar locations will eventually follow, but are likely only in four casinos (which were also legalized last year) and sports stadiums and arenas. In D.C., bars and restaurants can offer sports betting; one operator is looking to set up shop at a former bar on Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Capitol Hill.

Virginia allows betting on numerous professional sports, like the NBA, NHL, MLB, golf, tennis, mixed martial arts, lacrosse, and soccer. No betting is allowed on youth or college sports, nor on Olympic events.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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