FanDuel yesterday became the first sportsbook to offer legal sports betting online in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In the 2 o'clock hour yesterday afternoon, a Virginian placed a $25 bet from a mobile device on the Golden State Warriors to beat the New York Knicks. Despite the Warriors falling 119-104 at home, from that moment forward, for the first time in Virginia's history, sports betting is both legal and operational in the commonwealth.

Of a litany of applicants, FanDuel's "thorough and impressive" application is the only thus far to garner one of a dozen coveted sportsbook licenses from the Virginia Lottery Board.

William Hill, America's No. 1 sportsbook, has already declared partnership with Caesar's Danville in anticipation of the Caesar's resort moving into town.

After reaching out to William Hill, which was bought by Caesar's for $3.7 billion in September, officials could not confirm a go-live date, which the Star-Tribune previously projected to be Jan. 29. However, it was hinted that the sportsbook still has time to go live before the Super Bowl Feb. 7.

"Sports betting is not currently available in Virginia," one representative said.

Based on new legislation approved Thursday in the ongoing General Assembly session, William Hill will face reduced competition earning its license from the lottery. State legislators this week denoted that casinos in the five cities approved last year; Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Richmond and Bristol; are entitled to sports betting licenses supplementary to the twelve awarded by the lottery.

William Hill, an internationally recognized United Kingdom-based bookmaker that has seen its best success in the U.S., has been operational for over 80 years.

One reliable source projected William Hill will offer a $500 welcome bonus offer extended to new Virginia accounts with a $250 deposit after going live. There is also a promotional offer of up to a $300 risk-free first bet for registering.

FanDuel, which is already live, offers a $1,000 risk-free bet. When they say "risk-free," they mean a first-time losing bet up to $1,000 will be credited back to the bettor. But a winning bet means new cash in a bettor's account.

FanDuel is also offering 25-1 moneyline odds on the Chiefs or Bills in the AFC Championship game Sunday if the bet wins.

In Virginia, however, legislation specifies that betting on youth, collegiate and Olympic sports is not allowed. Only bets on the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, golf, lacrosse, mixed martial arts, soccer and tennis are permitted.

Officials predict at least a few more sportsbooks will be live in time for the Super Bowl. The companies expressing interest in receiving a lottery license in Virginia are BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, Handle 19, Hard Rock, PointsBet, theScore Bet, U.S. Bookmaking and of course, William Hill.

“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. 7,” Virginia Lottery Board spokeswoman Jennifer Mullen said.

After two attempts, including a failed attempt in 2019, Virginia joined Maryland in 2020 to legalize sports betting. In West Virginia and Washington, D.C., sports betting is already legal, along with other states. Only neighboring North Carolina still disallows sports betting legally.

With five slots and hundreds of cities to choose from, Virginia legislators did not elect to place casino operations in Virginia's most populous cities. Instead, cities like Danville, on the North Carolina border, and Bristol, on the Tennessee border, where sports betting is also illegal, are strategic in getting more out-of-state money into the commonwealth.

When physical sportsbooks are introduced in Virginia as casinos open, and officials have confirmed they will, this strategy will begin to go into effect. To date, there are no physical sportsbooks in the commonwealth yet.

FanDuel, adding Virginia to its presence now spanning nine states, was able to launch operations yesterday via a partnership with the NFL's Washington Football Team [formerly Washington Redskins].

Sources have indicated this move was allurement for the team, which is undergoing a generational period of rebranding, to relocate its stadium from Landover, Maryland, to Northern Virginia. The team already boasts administrative headquarters here in the Old Dominion, as well as hosting its preseason training camp in Richmond.

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