2019 General Assembly Session – Sports Betting Legislation Prefiled

Republican General Assembly Member

I’ll take the Giants by 2.  Sports betting was made illegal in the United States through the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). The legislation was signed into law by George H.W. Bush.

I’ll bet the Supreme Court overturns PASPA. Had you made that bet you would have won. In May, 2018 the US Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional. The high court decided that individual states should be able to decide for themselves whether to allow sports betting.

What’s the line on the Virginia game? Del Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax County, has pre-filed HB1638 to make sports betting legal in Virginia. However, the line on Virginia would not be applicable since all Virginia collegiate and professional teams would excluded from legalized sports betting. Sickles legislation would only authorize online betting and would allow for a maximum of five licensees with a revenue tax of 15%.

Party Boy Petersen. On the Senate side Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, has publicly stated that he will also introduce legislation making sports betting legal in Virginia. Petersen’s promised 2019 sports betting legislation would add public places as legal betting sites in addition to Sickle’s online venues.  As Petersen told the Virginia Mercury, “I’m not interested in people sitting in their parents’ basement with their pajamas on betting on a ‘Monday Night Football’ game, I want this to be part of a social entertainment package where people get out and spend money.” Party on, Chap!

What’s the vig? Oxford Economics estimates an annual $5.2 billion betting handle with $380 million in net revenue.  The state’s 15% would come to $60 million per year. Since the Virginia State Lottery would administer the sports betting, the lotto gang would also take a cut of the action. The rest would go to research projects at state universities under the Sickles approach but would become aid to Virginia community colleges under the Petersen plan.

The odds of passage  I’m going to go with 3-1 against passage of this legislation in 2019. I predict that the usual gang of ossified, conservative, downstate Republican legislators who wax poetic about the importance of liberty will block Virginians from having the liberty to make sports bets.

— Don Rippert.

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4 responses to “2019 General Assembly Session – Sports Betting Legislation Prefiled

  1. Don,

    Is the pre-filed stuff to be found on line? If so, where?

  2. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?191+men+BIL

    Several ways to look things up. The legislation still alive includes 1) bills from 2018 which were “carried over” to the 2019 session (technically still alive but most will die if not acted on by next month) and 2) new legislation for the 2019 session.

  3. Eliminating the criminal penalties is one thing, and of course Virginians have been betting on sports all along. Making the government a partner, giving it the same financial incentive to encourage stupid behavior that it has with the lottery, is another matter entirely. This should be a private operation, taxed the same as any other business, no more no less. (The gross receipts taxes alone will be substantial.) If the new libertarian spirit praised by DJ leads to a slew of casino operations across the state, no reason they cannot get into sports betting along with casino games.

    • I agree. It seems to me that Sickles’ pre-filed bill is pretty much of a summary. I also think the prohibition on betting on Virginia teams is pretty bizarre too. Anybody serious about rigging a Virginia based sporting contest in order to cash a big bet could drive to the nearest state allowing such bets.

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