Just days after the Virginia State Lottery announced it was targeting a launch date of the Super Bowl, online sports betting launched on Thursday. FanDuel Sportsbook was the first to go live, and its partnership with the Washington Football Team made it happen.
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On Wednesday night, FanDuel posted an announcement on social media outlining the launch, but that message was quickly deleted. The sportsbook was still able to go through with its launch on Thursday afternoon after passing all the final tests.
At the time, FanDuel was the only operator to receive official approval, and the early start should allow the operator to build up a strong customer base before any competition emerges. With two conference championship games set to take place in the NFL on Sunday, FanDuel is expected to post some strong early numbers.
Not only has FanDuel partnered with the Washington Football Team, but it is also an official sports betting partner of DC United. Through this agreement, FanDuel will open up a sportsbook at Audi Field.
What Operator Comes Next?
Now that FanDuel has become the first operator to launch in Virginia, it’s unclear what the next sportsbook will be. The Virginia State Lottery confirmed that it had over 25 applicants for a license, but it has not announced the actual companies.
DraftKings and BetMGM are two of the biggest names set to receive a license, and they will each provide a real threat to FanDuel. Other companies such as BetRivers and William Hill will receive market access through their casino partnerships.
State law requires that at least four operators be approved for a sports betting license, but there can be more. This will likely mean that some big names are left out of the market entirely.
Michigan Also Set to Launch
It appeared to be a race between Michigan and Virginia to see which market was going to offer online sports betting first. Michigan launched retail sports betting in March 2020, but it took the state nearly a year to gear up for mobile sportsbooks.
Michigan was able to launch online betting on Friday, just one day after FanDuel Sportsbook in Virginia launched. Barstool Sportsbook drew plenty of attention in Michigan as it was able to launch a mobile app through a partnership with the Greektown Casino.
FanDuel has also received an online sports betting license in that state and will become a major factor in the Michigan market as well.
Changes Already Coming?
Delegate Mark Sickles is already looking to change the sports betting laws in Virginia, especially as it pertains to the number of available licenses. He recently introduced HB 1847, and it would allow for additional licenses to be available.
Industry experts have predicted that sports betting handle in 2021 could total more than $400 for the first year and then continue to climb. Virginia will not become one of the biggest markets in the US, but that number would put them in a great position moving forward.