With little serious political opposition, the phrase “Virginia is for Bettors” became off-limits for Virginia sports betting businesses when Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill Monday that bans the phrase in marketing materials.
The bill unanimously passed in the Virginia Senate , 44-0, in February and was approved in the Virginia House, 58-35, in March.
The penalty for a violation would be $50,000. The law takes effect July 1.
The legislation was a protective nod to the famous slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” that has been in use for decades. The familiar slogan also appears on some state license plates.
For transparency and full disclosure, this company has a website and an attached web domain of VirginiaIsForBettors.com. The phrase has also appeared on the website.
The parent company of VirginiaIsForBettors.com, the Gambling.com Group, is publicly traded on the NASDAQ and by self-description is “a media company and does not offer actual gambling services but helps online sportsbooks and casino operators acquire players.” It is licensed to do so in Virginia.
Original Bill was Re-Worded
Prior versions of the bill, SB96 — which was initially prefiled in January — were much broader in the verbiage that was targeted, namely the use of the name “Virginia” or “the Commonwealth” by a gaming business in advertising.
A newly worded bill the state Senate approved in early February was more specific in stating that usage of the phrase "Virginia is for Bettors" is prohibited to be used by a gaming business in “an advertisement in association with its product or service.”
Virginia’s gambling landscaped changed dramatically when online sports wagering began in January 2021. Since then, familiar gaming companies such as DraftKings Virginia, FanDuel VA, BetMGM Virginia, Caesars Sportsbook and others have launched online sports wagering operations.
VA Market Continues to Grow
Hard Rock Sportsbook VA became the 12th online sportsbook in the state when it went live on March 31. The ban on the phrase “Virginia is for Bettors” does not impact on the gambling companies’ operations in the commonwealth or on the ability of customers who are within the state to wager on those websites.
For the fifth straight month, Virginia topped $400 million in handle in February. From the beginning of sports betting through the end of February, customers have wagered about $4.1 billion; adjusted gross revenue has been about $157 million, and taxes raised have been more than $24.6 million with more than $615,000 going toward problem gambling treatment and support.
With online sports betting in full swing, brick-and-mortar casinos are also being developed in the commonwealth.