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Virginia sportsbooks fall just short of record month

1 Feb 2022

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Virginia sportsbooks closed a remarkable first year of sports betting with more than $31.5 million in gross revenue on more than $425 million in wagers in December. Although just short of the monthly handle record set in October, December's brisk action represented a fitting end to a debut year that made Virginia one of the first states to generate more than $3 billion in sports wagers in its first year, according to PlayVirginia, which tracks Virginia's sports betting market.

"Sportsbooks have set so many records recently that it almost seems disappointing when they don't, but December was still one of the best months for Virginia's operators," said Dann Stupp, lead analyst for PlayVirginia.com. "The most important thing for the industry is that the year ended with a ton of momentum. The final four months of the year helped sportsbooks finish the year on the high side of expectations."

Sportsbooks generated $426.6 million in wagers in December, their third consecutive month handling more than $400 million, according to data released Tuesday by the Virginia Lottery. December's wagers were up 6% from $402.6 million in November, though just short of the record $427.3 million collected in October. Average betting volume remained high, rising to $13.8 million per day over the 31 days of December from $13.4 million per day in November.

Bettors were luckier in December than in November. Sportsbooks generated $31.5 million in gross revenue, which was the second-most all-time despite falling short of November's $48.3 million win by 35%. With $17.1 million in promotional spending, sportsbooks produced $10.1 million in taxable revenue, yielding $1.7 million in state taxes.

Virginia's first year, which started on Jan. 21, 2021, has been among the best debuts in U.S. history. For the year, Virginia's sportsbooks generated:

- $3.2 billion in wagers, the eighth-most among the U.S. states that allowed some form of legal sports betting in 2021.
- $285.9 million in gross revenue.
- $20.3 million in state taxes.

"As impressive as the first year of sports betting has been, Virginia's market has not come close to maturity," said Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayVirginia.com. "Virginians are still getting comfortable with legal sports betting in its many forms, and operators will continue to look for ways to expand their base. 2021 was just the beginning."

The first year of sports betting in Virginia has been an eye-opener. Not only did the Commonwealth become one of the nation's largest markets almost overnight, but regulators also built a strong regulatory framework that has made Virginia appealing for operators.

In addition, Virginians proved to have a wide range of interests, and ultimately bet more on basketball than football.

"We've learned so much over the first year, and the state is developing into a unique market," Stupp said. "Regulators have made some missteps, such as the betting ban on in-state colleges and the decision to tax adjusted gross revenue. But by and large, Virginia got it right and that should foster a healthy market for years to come."
 
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