(The Center Square) – About four months after Virginia legalized sports betting, the state surpassed $1 billion in wagers, which is the fastest rate that state has reached that number, according to betting analyst group PlayVirginia.
The newly released numbers show there were about $1.1 billion in wagers at the end of May, which is about four months and one week since legal betting launched Jan. 21. The state broke Tennessee's record for the quickest state to reach $1 billion worth of wagers by about two months.
“The launch of sports betting in Virginia has gone about as smoothly as could have been expected,” Jessica Welman, an analyst for the PlayUSA, said in a statement. PlayVirginia is the Virginia affiliate of PlayUSA.
“Launching just in time for the Super Bowl got the market off on the right foot,” Welman said. “But the state’s sportsbooks still reached the $1 billion milestone mostly without the benefit of football and during two months when sports betting typically slows. That makes the record all the more impressive.”
Virginia’s sports wagers did decline in April and May, which PlayVirginia cited as two of the slowest months in sports betting historically. Wagers in the commonwealth dropped 22.1% in April when compared to March, but each of the 10 largest markets had at least a 13% decline with the sharpest drop being 30.5%.
From April to May, the commonwealth saw a smaller decline: 4%. Bettors placed $227 million in wages in May, compared to $236.4 in wagers in April. May saw an average of $7.3 million in wagers in May compared to $7.9 million in wagers per day in April. April has one fewer day than May.
“The state’s best month came in March, exacerbating the slowdown, but Virginia is managing the offseason about as well as a young market could hope,” Dann Stupp, an analyst for PlayVirginia, said in a statement. “The playoff appearances by the Washington Wizards and Capitals in May were a help. But without a significant local draw over the next few months, sportsbooks will have to be innovative to keep bettors engaged.”
According to PlayVirginia, the next surge in sports betting will likely be the start of the football season. The state could lose some betting opportunities for the College World Series for its decision to ban bets on in-state college teams, according to PlayVirginia
“Virginia’s record-setting start has come in spite of its wagering ban on in-state college teams, which is essentially leaving money on the table,” Stupp said. “Hopefully the ban will eventually be addressed, but even with it Virginia’s young industry remains in excellent overall health.”
In May, the gaming revenue increased by 19% when compared to April: up to $23.2 million from $19.4 million. The state government took in $2.4 million in tax revenue in May from betting. To date, legal betting generated $85 million in gaming revenue for sportsbooks and $5.6 million in tax revenue.