RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Lottery Board announced the formal approval of initial regulations on casino gaming in the Commonwealth as well as providing an update on the recent launch of mobile sports betting.

The Virginia Lottery and its Board were assigned the casinos, licensing, and regulation of mobile sports in the 2020 General Assembly session.

As for casinos, the approved emergency regulations apply to proposed land-based casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth — which were endorsed by voters in those localities in the November 2020 elections.

A fifth casino in Richmond has also been proposed and is pending a public referendum in November 2021.

The 2020 casino legislation required adoption of an initial regulatory framework by April 2021.

The next steps include the Lottery refining regulations including an opportunity for public and stakeholder participation.

Additionally, as part of the pre-certification process prior to the referendum, the Lottery conducted a preliminary assessment of the financial viability of each city’s preferred casino partner and the partner’s experience in operating casinos in a regulated environment.

The Lottery says that as applications for casino operating licenses are submitted, it will conduct a comprehensive review of casino operators — including criminal history and financial reviews of designated gaming operators.

Regulatory requirements also will specify internal controls, on-site security, and surveillance requirements. 

“The Lottery’s role as regulator is based on its three-decade track record as a respected and trusted gaming authority in the Commonwealth,” said Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery. “The Lottery’s professional staff and our Board will work to protect the public interest by ensuring the integrity of casino gaming through the strict enforcement of the law and our regulations.”

The approved emergency casino regulations are posted here

On Jan. 21, live, legal sports wagering launched in the state and includes five approved permit holders, and additional permits are expected to be awarded soon.

Betfair Interactive US LLC (d/b/a FanDuel) in conjunction with the Washington Football Team, Crown Virginia Gaming (Draft Kings), BetMGM, Portsmouth Gaming Holdings, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, and Caesars Virginia are all licensed operators.

By law, the Lottery says operators are required to submit financial reports on total wagering activities by the 20th day of each month — the first reports will be due by Feb. 20.  

“In the seven months since sports betting was authorized by state law, the Virginia Lottery has crafted responsible regulations, accepted and reviewed applications, and awarded the first licenses to qualified operators,” said Hall. “We have built a regulatory program that protects consumers and ensures the integrity of legal sports wagering in Virginia.”

Along with the expansion of gaming in the Commonwealth, Lottery Board members also received an update on the possible record-breaking fiscal year for the agency.

Compared to last year, sales increased by 37 percent to $1.4 billion during the first half of the Fiscal Year 2021 — from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.

Lottery officials also say that total profits during the six-month period were up more than 20 percent from the previous year for a total of $349.7 million.

By law, all Virginia Lottery profits go to K-12 public education in the Commonwealth.

Sales were driven by a variety of factors officials say, including the July 1, 2020 launch of online iLottery games.

Games like Mega Millions, Powerball, Cash4Life, and more all-new, instant-win games were included in the online options.

Officials say the launch of this digital platform is the most successful in U.S. Lottery history, shattering performance targets and recording $283 million in topline sales in the first six months of the fiscal year.

“We have seen strong growth across our product portfolio, and we are very pleased to see that our experience with online sales confirms what’s been seen in other iLottery states: online sales make lottery products more relevant to digital consumers who place a premium on convenience,” Hall said.

“Since launching iLottery last July, we’ve continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth at the retail counter, too. That’s great news for the good cause the Virginia Lottery supports: K-12 schools in the Commonwealth.”

Sports betting and casino regulations, information and approvals can be viewed here.