Virginia Sports Betting’s September Revenues Surge, But Promotional Spending Way Up

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Virginia’s sports betting market saw a surge of interest in September, according to the latest figures from the Virginia Lottery.

Football betting on the start of the NFL season in September led to record months in various U.S. gambling markets, and Virginia also had its second-biggest handle ever at $520 million.

September’s total handle at the 16 Virginia online sports betting operators and retail sportsbooks exceeded $520 million. That’s up 26% year-on-year, and also up 63% on August’s figures.

From that $520 million handle, sportsbooks held onto $45.62 million in monthly revenues. Some 98.59% of the handle was at online operators, with Virginia retail sports betting locations taking in $5.6 million and holding on to $834,000. That’s although there is currently only one operational, at the temporary Hard Rock Bristol venue.

Operators paid a total tax bill of $7.04 million from those revenues at the state tax rate of 15%.

Promotional Spending Up, Tax Stays Strong

The Virginia Lottery Board does not reveal monthly operator statistics. However, it has been revealed that only seven of the 16 online sports betting operators made enough revenues to be taxed for the month.

That could be down to a number of factors, including the hold rate against bettors and promotional spending. The regulator noted that because of the NFL kickoff, September’s promo spending was the highest since March 2023, when the popular March Madness college basketball tournament was staged.

In September, more than $8.5 million in promotional deductions were requested by Virginia sportsbooks. That’s more than ten times the $800,000 spent in August.

It also bears mentioning that the state changed its regulations in 2022, preventing sportsbooks that have operated for more than 12 months from using promotional deductions.

That means the $8.5 million promo spend was all from newer entrants to the market. That could include the two UK-based sportsbooks, Bet365 and Betfred, both of which are staging major efforts to increase their U.S. market share.

Despite that, Virginia’s tax collected from operators was up 70% on last month due to the increased overall handle and good hold. The total tax collected for 2023 is now $49.8 million, well ahead of this point in 2022, when it stood at $30 million for the year.

There was one previous operator who missed out on booming revenues during football season kickoff in Virginia, however. In the last days of August, WynnBet withdrew from the Virginia market, as well as from seven other states.

Hold Rates Above National Average

Despite the challenges faced in peak football betting season, Virginia’s sports betting operators were once again just above 10% with their total hold rate. That’s well above the national average of 7%.

The total year-on-year revenue so far is $327 million. That’s up 61% on this point in 2022. In comparison, the total handle has increased 11% so far this year, standing at $3.75 billion with September’s numbers included.

That puts Virginia at number 7 in the list of the biggest U.S. sports betting markets, behind Arizona sports betting, but ahead of Colorado.

New York sports betting fans are still the top market in the country by a long shot, with nearly four times Virginia’s spend at $13 billion for 2023 so far.

Statistics for the three Virginia casino venues are released separately, including two temporary venues at Caesars Danville and Hard Rock Bristol.

The only retail sportsbook in the state at Hard Rock Bristol actually had a good month. Its total handle of $5.6 million was up substantially from August’s $3.55 million.

That impressive retail handle will probably reduce in the future with impending competition from the retail ‘book at Caesars Virginia, which is set to open next year.

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