Virginia Bill To Approve In-State College Sports Bets Dies In Committee

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It will be another year at least before Virginia sports fans can place bets on their own college teams, as legislation lifting the prohibition on in-state college sports betting was effectively killed Thursday night.

The House General Laws Committee voted to table Senate Bill 576, 18-4.  The legislation had passed the state Senate earlier this month, 23-17.

State Sen. T. Montgomery Mason, a Democrat, the main sponsor of the bill, told lawmakers even if they don’t pass it this year, it will eventually be legalized.

Mason spoke toward the end of an hours-long hearing as the committee tried to wrap up legislation action before the end of the session. He said he was not a gambler but that he sponsored the bill to make sure sports betting on athletic programs like the University of Virginia or Virginia Tech is “all above board,” rather than conducted on the black market.

“I don’t give a lick about revenue,” he said, adding he wanted to ensure all bets were “traced.”

Virginia launched sports betting in 2020. As of Jan. 21, 2021, the one-year anniversary of sports betting in the state, more than $3.2 billion in wagers had been placed.  

Opposition To In-State College Betting In Virginia 

Those opposed to the bill said it was too soon to change the rules since sports betting was only recently legalized. Several committee members said they were opposed because state colleges and universities were loud and clear two years ago that they did not want students betting on other students. 

“This was an important part of getting the bill passed,” said Del. David Bulova, a Democrat. “These are kids.”

Virginia Is Not For Bettors

State Sen. Tommy Norment’s legislation, barring the use of the phrase “Virginia is for bettors,” unanimously passed the committee without debate. 

Virginia’s statewide tourism slogan is “Virginia is for lovers.” It has used this in marketing campaigns for more than 50 years. 

 Senate Bill 96 now goes before the full House. It previously passed the Senate, 40-0.

About the Author

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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