Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And like almost everybody else in the Old Dominion, he's betting Chiefs -3 in the Super Bowl.
OK, I took some liberties with a timeless classic story. But make no mistake, the state of Virginia got a late Christmas gift, albeit just in time for the Big Game, when legalized Virginia sports betting went live in the past couple of weeks. The Virginia Legislature passed sports betting legislation last March and got Gov. Ralph Northam's signature in April, setting up the January launch.
Four sportsbooks are already live in the Virginia sports betting market, and operators are pleased with early returns.
Virginia Super Bowl Betting
FanDuel was the first book to take a bet, opening its mobile-wagering app on Jan. 21. DraftKings followed on Jan. 24, and BetMGM and BetRivers launched in the past week, with William Hill US and others expected in the near future.
With the Super Bowl on deck, the timing couldn't be much better, as the Big Game annually represents the largest single-day sports wagering event in the United States. Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings, said he's quite satisfied with the Super Bowl response in the first week-plus.
"Betting on our network has been excellent only eight days into it," Avello said Monday afternoon of action on the Chiefs-Buccaneers clash. "We are very pleased with what we've seen out of Virginia and are excited for sports fans in the state to experience betting on the Super Bowl for the first time ever."
Well, the first time with a legal, regulated sportsbook at least, as surely many Virginians previously used other means to bet on sports.
So far, Virginia Super Bowl bettors like the favorite even more than DraftKings' overall customer base across the country. In Virginia, 74 percent of point-spread bets and 83 percent of spread dollars are on the Chiefs, who are 3-point favorites. Overall at DraftKings, Kansas City is taking 72 percent of bets/78 percent of money.
On DraftKings' total of 56.5, the Over is getting 75 percent of bets and 80 percent of money in Virginia, while overall at DK, 75 percent of bets and 76 percent of dollars are on the Over. Moneyline betting in Virginia is drawing good two-way action, very similar to overall moneyline betting at DraftKings, with the price at Chiefs -162/Buccaneers +143.
More Virginia Sports Betting
Of course, there's a full menu of sports to bet at this time of year. Jason Scott, BetMGM's vice president of trading, said his customers are more into the day-to-day live events right now.
"Since launching BetMGM in Virginia, general action has been phenomenal. That said, compared to the rest of the nation, the citizens of Virginia have been slower to come to the Super Bowl party," Scott said. "I suspect that because sports betting is new to them, they’re having too much fun betting on college basketball and the NHL to think too far ahead about Sunday. We’ll see if that changes closer to the Big Game."
If typical American sports betting attitudes are any indication, BetMGM and all Virginia operators can count on a huge surge come Super Bowl weekend.