Virginia’s sports betting volume slumped in July to the lowest level since sportsbooks first launched, echoing a trend that has affected every major market in the U.S. But the seasonal decline in wagering will be short-lived as causal bettors return home from summer vacations and turn their attention to football, according to PlayVirginia, which tracks the state’s gaming market.
“July brings a relatively light sports schedule and summer vacations that typically make it the slowest month in sports betting, and Virginia is not immune from a trend that has affected every major market,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for the PlayUSA.com network, which includes PlayVirginia.com. “The momentum should change quickly as football draws nearer and casual bettors return home. The next five months should bring significant growth to Virginia’s fledgling sports betting industry.”
Bettors placed $161.9 million in wagers at Virginia’s sportsbooks in July, down 31.1% from $234.9 million in June, according to data released Wednesday by The Virginia Lottery. The pace of betting was the slowest ever, too, dropping from $7.8 million in wagers per day over the 30 days of June to $5.2 million over the 31 days of July.
Gross gaming revenue did remain relatively high, dropping 9.3% to $20.0 million in July from $22.0 million in June. The hold percentage was 12.3% in July, which helped partially offset the low volume. Adjusted gross revenue dropped to $12.7 million, yielding $1.9 million in state taxes, including $46,611 for problem gambling support.
The pandemic skewed 2020 data, but July was the lowest volume month across the U.S. in both 2018 and 2019 so a dip in Virginia was hardly a surprise. The NBA Finals and the opening week of the Olympics made this July a bit busier than normal. But the NBA Finals represents just six games, and bettors were not particularly moved by the Olympics.
“The NBA Finals and the Olympics, which featured a stark time difference, didn’t particularly move the needle,” said Dann Stupp, lead analyst for PlayVirginia.com. “The Olympics should do modestly better in August, when high-profile team sports like basketball reached the medal rounds. But in the end, there just isn’t enough to attract widespread betting, which makes a relatively large win key in helping sportsbooks weather the seasonal slowdown.”
Despite a slow July, Virginia continues to perform well as a sports betting market. Since Jan. 21, Virginia sportsbooks have accepted $1.5 billion in wagers, which has resulted in $127.0 million in gross gaming revenue. With the busiest months likely still ahead, the state could bring in more than $3 billion in wagers by year’s end.
To that end, Barstool Sports made its debut on Aug. 10, giving Virginia another high-profile brand. And more are planning to launch either before or during the football season.
“Virginia’s sportsbooks remain in an excellent place, and new operators are a good sign that the market is healthy and attractive,” Stupp said. “Increasing competition should help engage new customers and force the largest operators in the state, including FanDuel and DraftKings, to continue to vie for attention. The most important months of the year are still ahead, and competition will help spur the entire market.”