Lawmaker wants to ban the use of the name “Virginia” in sports betting ads


Advertising for sports betting in Virginia has come under intense scrutiny by a prominent lawmaker who wants to keep the state’s name out of gambling messages.

Legislation pre-tabled by the Republican Senate leader Tommy Norment of Williamsburg would allow the state to impose fines on sports betting and casino companies or their affiliates of up to $ 50,000 per violation for using “Virginia” or “Commonwealth” – another name for the State – in their advertising campaigns in Virginia.

Senate Bill 96 would effectively ban any advertising in Virginia using the terms to market sports betting or casino gaming products or services.

Norment’s bill is now before the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology of the Virginia General Assembly. It is expected to be formally presented to the Senate when the General Assembly meets in ordinary legislative session next week, on January 12.

Sports betting was launched online in Virginia on January 21, 2021, after the state legalized sports betting in April 2020. Retail sports betting will likely launch in the state sometime in 2022.

Possible reasons for the legislation

Advertising on digital, TV, and billboard sports betting has intensified in Virginia after the state legalized sports betting. Adversity intensified after the launch of the mobile.

Today, at least eight online sportsbooks – FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, WynnBet, Unibet, PointsBet – are live in Virginia.

It is uncertain why Norment wants to ban the use of the state or “Commonwealth” name in sports betting and casino advertising. A response to Play todayThe request for comment on the bill sent to the senator on January 6 is still pending.

Norment supported the passage of the final version of 2020 SB384, who legalized sports betting in Virginia.

Advertising is protected by the First Amendment, although commercial speech has less protection under the US Constitution than other types of speech. The federal and state governments both have some degree of regulatory control over commercial speech.

It is not certain that SB 96 will face some kind of constitutional challenge, if it becomes law.