Gamblers Guide to Virginia
Virginia gambling laws are strict about some types of gambling, but lax about others. For example, casinos are outlawed, but casino games in a social gaming setting are legal.
This page covers everything you need to know about Virginia gambling sites, laws, and regulations.
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Online Gambling and Virginia Law
Is Online Gambling Legal in Virginia?
Virginia doesn't have any specific internet gambling laws, but their existing laws cover online gambling. Nothing in the Virginia legal code makes any specific distinction between online and land-based gambling.
According to section 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code, gambling devices are defined as:
"a. Any device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other thing, including books, records and other papers, which are actually used in an illegal gambling operation or activity, and
b. Any machine, apparatus, implement, instrument, contrivance, board or other thing, or electronic or video versions thereof, including but not limited to those dependent upon the insertion of a coin or other object for their operation"
Gambling devices include electronics. A computer can be counted as a gambling device, which are illegal in Virginia.
Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Virginia?
You could get arrested for gambling online in Virginia, but no one has as of yet.
If you're charged with illegal gambling, section 18.2-326 of the Virginia Code states the penalty for illegal gambling as follows:
"Except as otherwise provided in this article, any person who illegally gambles or engages in interstate gambling as defined in § 18.2-325 shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. If an association or pool of persons illegally gamble, each person therein shall be guilty of illegal gambling."
Virginia law enforcement is focused on stopping illegal casinos and poker rooms throughout the state, not online gamblers. This isn't unusual in the United States. Most law enforcement working in vice categories like this focus their enforcement activity on providers rather than customers.
Is Virginia Going to Legalize Online Gaming?
It's hard to say if Virginia is going to legalize online gaming. The state has outlawed casinos; however, it uses the internet for the lottery. A print and play option is available on the Virginia Lottery website for lottery, bingo, blackjack, and crossword games.
If Virginia continues their trend of legalizing online forms of gaming, websites for legal, regulated gambling could be available soon.
How Do I Choose a Good Online Gaming Site?
If you're not willing to wait for legalization, plenty of offshore gambling companies in foreign jurisdictions are willing to take your action. Be aware that patronizing these businesses might be technically illegal, although the risk of arrest and prosecution is minimal. (We've never seen reports of anyone being arrested for playing at an online casino.)
Our advice, of course, is to obey the law in Virginia - or anywhere else. That doesn't mean we're naïve. We know that some of our readers make decisions about certain legalities related to their risk level, and playing online casino games for money presents little risk.
Here are some things you should do before signing up at an offshore betting site, though:
- Read Reviews -
Search for reviews from past and present users about the site you're considering. Reading the reviews gives you a good idea of the advantages and disadvantages of the site from the member's point of view.
Keep in mind that not all reviews on the internet are legitimate reviews from real players. Many reviews are just sales letters or advertisements labeled as reviews. Look for reviews that seem to be written from the first-person point of view. Also look for reviews that offer insights into both the pros and the cons of a specific site.
We offer thorough, honest reviews on our site.
- Check Deposit Options -
Research what deposit options the site offers to see if they accept what you use or something you're comfortable using. Being able to get money to and from the site easily is essential to having fun at a gambling site.
- Game Variety -
Make sure the site you're considering has your favorite games and ones that you might want to try. Having a good variety of games keeps you entertained. It's silly to sign up at an online casino that only offers slot machines if you want to play live dealer blackjack, for example.
Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?
Offshore gambling sites are safe if you know how to look for legitimate ones.
Before choosing an offshore gambling site, research their licensing and how long they've been in business. By researching those two things you can find out restrictions and fees involved with the site. You can also determine if they have a stream of loyal customers.
Gambling at an offshore site will never offer the same level of safety and protection you'd have at a casino in Las Vegas. If you have a dispute with a business in a foreign country, the hoops you'd have to jump through to take any kind of legal action are ridiculous and expensive.
For this reason - any many others - we suggest only gambling with money you can afford to lose.
Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Virginia?
Yes, Virginia was the first state to legalize daily fantasy sports. Residents must be 18 or older to play.
Daily fantasy sports sites must pay a $50,000 one-time fee to Virginia to legally operate in the state.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in Virginia. Gambling Venues in Virginia
Where to gamble in the state of Virginia. The History of Gaming Laws in Virginia
A brief history of Virginia laws regarding gambling. The Furture of Gambling in Virginia
What does the future of gambling look like in Virginia?
More Gambling Laws in Virginia
According to section 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code, illegal gambling is defined as:
"the making, placing or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of money or other thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth."
Casino Games: Illegal
No casinos, tribal or otherwise, are legal in Virginia.
The penalties for conducting illegal gambling operations according to section 18.2-328 of the Virginia Code are the following:
"The operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. However, any such operator who engages in an illegal gambling operation which (i) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or (ii) has gross revenue of $2,000 or more in any single day shall be fined not more than $20,000 and imprisoned not less than one year nor more than ten years."
Owning a slot machine or other devices for gambling is illegal in Virginia. Here's the penalty for illegal possession of a gambling device according to section 18.2-331 of the Virginia Code:
"A person is guilty of illegal possession of a gambling device when he manufactures, sells, transports, rents, gives away, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of any gambling device, believing or having reason to believe that the same is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity. Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor."
Sports and Race Betting: Legal
Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering is legal in Virginia. You can bet on and off track in Virginia, with authorized betting terminals located throughout the state--including terminals in restaurants.
Here's what section 18.2-133 of the Virginia Code says about sporting events:
"Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent any contest of speed or skill between men, animals, fowl or vehicles, where participants may receive prizes or different percentages of a purse, stake or premium dependent upon whether they win or lose or dependent upon their position or score at the end of such contest."
Here's what section 18.2-334.4 of the Virginia Code says about pari-mutuel wagering:
"Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in any race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering conducted in accordance with Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1."
Betting on a horse race in an unauthorized fashion, such as an office bet, is illegal in Virginia.
Here's what section 18.2-326 of the Virginia Code says about the penalty of betting on horse races outside of authorized options:
"if any person makes, places, or receives any bet or wager of money or other thing of value on a horse race in the Commonwealth, whether the race is inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth at any place or through any means other than (i) at a racetrack licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1 or (ii) at a satellite facility or through advance deposit account wagering, as those terms are defined in § 59.1-365, licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."
Greyhound racing is illegal in Virginia.
Virginia has a state-regulated lottery. The proceeds from the lottery go toward public education.
Here's what the Virginia Lottery website says:
"Since 1988, the Virginia Lottery has been producing fun and exciting games for Virginians to enjoy. When players have fun, the Lottery has fun! With every game purchase, sales increase, and more profits can be turned over to the Commonwealth. And since 1999, 100% of the Lottery's profits support Virginia public education, K-12."
The Virginia Lottery offers multiple games including draw games, scratchers, print 'n play, and promotional games. Scratcher prices range from $1 to $30.
Bingo: Charitable Gaming Only
Charitable gaming is legal in Virginia. Only certain organizations are permitted to run charitable games. These include charitable organizations and fire departments.
Here are the games that section 18.2-340.22 of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions allows:
"This article permits qualified organizations to conduct raffles, bingo and instant bingo games. All games not explicitly authorized by this article or Board regulations adopted in accordance with § 18.2-340.18 are prohibited."
Here's what section 18.2-340.15 of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions says about charitable gaming:
"Charitable gaming as authorized herein shall be permitted in the Commonwealth as a means of funding qualified organizations but shall be conducted only in strict compliance with the provisions of this article. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is vested with control of all charitable gaming in the Commonwealth. The Charitable Gaming Board shall have the power to prescribe regulations and conditions under which such gaming shall be conducted to ensure that it is conducted in a manner consistent with the purpose for which it is permitted."
In general, bingo permits only allow bingo games to be played two to four days a week, but special permits can be granted to allow play every day of the week.
The maximum bingo prize money or merchandise defined by the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions is the following:
"9. No organization shall award any bingo prize money or any merchandise valued in excess of the following amounts: a. No bingo door prize shall exceed $50 for a single door prize or $250 in cumulative door prizes in any one session; b. No regular bingo or special bingo game prize shall exceed $100; c. No instant bingo, pull tab, or seal card prize for a single card shall exceed $599; and d. No bingo jackpot of any nature whatsoever shall exceed $1,000, nor shall the total amount of bingo jackpot prizes awarded in any one session exceed $1,000. Proceeds from the sale of bingo cards and the sheets used for bingo jackpot games shall be accounted for separately from the bingo cards or sheets used for any other bingo games."
The maximum amounts listed above are the general amounts, and some exceptions can be made on approval.
Social Gambling: Legal
Social gambling in private residences is legal in Virginia. Virginia residents can play casino games in their home as long as the house doesn't take a cut of the pot.
Here's what section 18.2-334 of the Virginia Code says about gambling in private residences:
"Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in a game of chance conducted in a private residence, provided such private residence is not commonly used for such games of chance and there is no operator as defined in subsection 4 of § 18.2-325."
Gambling Venues in Virginia
No casinos can be found in Virginia, but bingo halls are located throughout the state.
History of Gambling in Virginia
Charitable gambling laws are decided by the local governments.
The Virginia Racing Commission, or VRC for short, is created to oversee pari-mutuel betting.
A bill attempting to create a riverboat gaming commission is denied by the committee.
Another bill attempts to legalize riverboat gambling and it fails.
Virginia State Lottery is legalized.
Virginia's only horse track, Colonial Downs, opens.
Off track betting facilities are now overseen by the VRC.
EZ betting terminals come to Virginia
Bills to legalize riverboat casinos have been proposed several times, but at this point they've failed each time. The Virginia government seems determined to keep land-based or boat casinos from coming to their state.
Although Virginia has outlawed casino gambling, it's been legalizing forms of online gaming. For example, Virginia legalized daily fantasy sports before any other state, and the state lottery has utilized the internet for some time. Based on these facts, Virginia gambling sites with state-regulated games could be coming in the near future.