Online lottery games will begin in Virginia on July 1 in response to a huge decline in retail sales due to the coronavirus. The state recognized that this decline in sales would have a massive effect on the economy of the state, and lawmakers were able to get new laws passed quickly.
The state had laws that prohibited the online sale of lottery games, but lawmakers were able to get those laws repealed in March. Governor Ralph Northam was in support of this move, and he quickly signed the bill into law.
Virginia now becomes just the ninth state in the US that offers online lottery games. The other states are Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Rhode Island had been the newest state to join this list, launching online lottery games earlier this year.
The online lottery games will start small, but the Virginia Lottery is planning on adding new games every few weeks. Even though this decision was in response to the coronavirus pandemic, online lottery games are now the new norm in Virginia.
Northern Wilds will be the first online game that is offered to residents on July 1. The game will be developed and produced by Instant Win Gaming (IWG), which also operates online lottery games in both Michigan and New Hampshire.
Customers will also be able to purchase online tickets for Mega Millions, Cash4Life, and Powerball. The Virginia Lottery will offer these sales through their website, and customers will have to create an account before playing.
Retail Ticket Sales See Massive Decline
Virginia isn’t the only state in the country to see a massive decline in lottery ticket sales, but the numbers are alarming. The state saw a 28 percent decrease in sales during March, and the numbers are expected to be even worse in April and May.
The Virginia Lottery currently has a streak of three straight years of an increase in proceeds and sales. Even with a huge success with the online ticket sales, the streak is expected to come to an end in 2020.
The Virginia Lottery helps to fund K-12 public education in the state, and this recent decrease in sales will affect the state budget. Ten percent of the annual education budget comes from these sales, and that figure will have to be adjusted based on the decrease.
Sports Betting Still Slated For December
Earlier this year, the state of Virginia took an unprecedented step when they legalized commercial casino gambling. The bill also included the legalization of sports betting, and that industry is still set to launch in December 2020.
The state chose five economically declining cities as the potential sites for new casinos to be built, and these cities have been working hard to secure bids. The final decision will still be left up to the local voters in November, but early results have the referendum passing in each location.
The Virginia Lottery was tasked with leading the new sports betting industry, and they have been hard at work making the initial preparations. The Virginia Lottery can issue up to 12 sports betting licenses, and they are expected to have several interested suitors.
Officials of the lottery are set to meet again on July 15, and they will begin to come up with laws to regulate the industry and outline the application process. Sportsbooks will be required to pay a $200,000 application fee, and revenue will be taxed at 15 percent.
Even though there is still plenty of work left to be done, all signs point to sports betting in Virginia before the end of 2020.