College betting has always been a dividing topic in the United States. Those in favor point to the potential to generate revenue for higher education facilities and engage fans in positive betting camaraderie. However, others believe it does more harm than good. We’re looking at whether Virginia will introduce in-state betting on college sports in the future ahead of March Madness.
College Wagering in the US
With 45 million Americans expected to wager on the upcoming March Madness tournament, the basketball event will eclipse this year’s Super Bowl by over 11 million bettors. However, the rules of college betting vary from state to state. For example, you can place team props bets on any college game in Tennessee and any player props bets in Indiana. Meanwhile, both team and player props are prohibited in states like Arizona and Iowa.
One element of college wagering that differs between states is betting on teams from within the state where you are wagering. On the one hand, it allows bettors to bet on their local college teams and create a sense of hometown pride among the community. On the other hand, president of the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling Carolyn Hawley argues it encourages local teams to participate in illegal game sabotaging.
Betting on In-State College Games in Virginia
Along with New York and New Jersey, Virginia has been unsuccessful in legalizing this type of bet. Since the state legalized sports wagering in April 2020, attempts have been made to pass a law that will allow in-state college betting in the Old Dominion State. All those put forward so far have been faced with opposition and ultimately shut down.
The most recent attempt to legalize in-state betting in Virginia arrived at the Senate in the form of SB 576. The reception was mixed but eventually passed in a 23-17 vote. Though the odds seemed stacked in the bill’s favor, the motion died once it reached the House Generals Law Committee. This is the furthest a proposition of its kind has come in Virginia after a similar bill failed to make any progress in February 2022.
Why Does Virginia Want To See In-State College Betting Legalized?
Lawmakers in Virginia are keen to legalize in-state betting to eliminate illegal underground gambling, which Sen. Monty Mason believes has “always existed” in the state. 15% of sportsbook profits gets funneled into Virginia’s general fund. Many argue that means the funds being brought in for the state will only increase with the inclusion of in-state college betting.
Besides eliminating illegal gambling and increasing state funds, Virginia residents believe that in-state betting will create a bond within the local community. Instead of traveling beyond state borders to wager on one of Virginia’s college basketball teams, Virginians will be able to do so from the comfort of their own homes. Not only that, but the money wagered in-state would remain in Virginia, rather than benefiting the sportsbooks situated in Virginia\’s neighboring states.
Not all residents agree. The Virginia Council on Problem Gambling believes pressure from hometown wagers will encourage players to sabotage their games and increase their own gambling habits. However, sports betting analyst Dustin Gouker claims that fixing games and manipulating wagers is very difficult. Significant wagering and suspicious activity are automatically flagged, so Gouker believes that in-state college betting would not lead to the illegal sabotaging of college games.
The Future Of In-State Betting in Virginia
So what is the outcome looking like for in-state college betting in Virginia? Following the failure of SB 576, there are currently no active initiatives being discussed. Though lawmakers are determined to get the ball rolling once again, it doesn’t look like in-state college betting will be made legal in time for March Madness. All is not lost for Virginia bettors, though. You can still bet on out-of-state games and wager on Virginia teams from different states. All you have to do is visit a state where the laws on college sports betting are different. If your preferred sportsbook is legal in that state, you can even use your usual betting account.