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Virginia Governor requests sports betting bill amendments


Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has put forward a number of amendments to a bill that would legalise sports wagering in the state.

House Bill 896, which set out plans to permit online and mobile sports betting, passed the House last month by a vote of 59-35 after also clearing the Senate on March 7 by a vote of 33-5.

Among the technical amendments suggested by Northam include changing the amount operators would need to pay for a sports betting license. This fee was set at a flat fee of $250,000, but could now be changed to $50,000 for investigating each principal in the business.

This fee could then be increased if the costs of the regulatory investigation into whether an operator is suitable for a license exceed the initial application fee.

Also in relation to licensing costs, the amount that operators would need to pay to renew a sports betting license in Virginia could be increased from $200,000 to $250,000, should Northam’s amendment be adopted.

The Virginia Lottery, which would assume responsibility for regulating the new market, could also have longer to consider license applications. Northam said this should be extended from 60 days to 90 days.

Another technical change includes an operator being permitted to run its sports betting platform “under a brand other than its own”, which could further open up the state’s market.

Northam has also put forward a change whereby consumers would be able to bet on collegiate sports games that take place in Virginia, but do not include teams from colleges or universities located in the state.

In terms of venues, Northam suggested altering the definition of a motor sports facility to read as a location that “hosts a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) national touring race”.

Also in relation to venues, Northam has said the definition for a ‘principal’ in a gaming facility should be changed.

He said this should cover any individual who solely or together with his immediate family members owns or controls, directly or indirectly, 5% or more of the pecuniary interest in any entity that is a permit holder. Also included in his expanded definition is any individual that has the power to vote or cause the vote of 5% or more of the voting securities or other ownership interests of such entity.

In addition, Northam said the term ‘principal’ should include “any individual who is employed in a managerial capacity for a sports betting platform on behalf of a permit holder”.

The bill will now move back to the Virginia General Assembly where Northam’s suggested amendments will be considered. The Assembly is next due to meet on April 22.