Getting to Know Virginia and Its Gambling History
Is any type of online gambling legal in Virginia?
- Online poker: It’s complicated.
- Online casino games: It’s complicated.
- Online sports betting: It’s complicated.
Virginia laws make no mention of online poker, gambling, or sports betting, nor their legal status.
Virginia is one of the Commonwealth states and is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of America. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to its east, with other borders comprised of Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
- Abbreviation: VA
- State Motto: Thus Always to Tyrants
- Capital City: Richmond
- Population Estimate: 8.4 million (12th)
- Website: http://www.virginia.gov/
As is typical for many states in this area of the country, there is little legal gambling in Virginia. Horse tracks offer racing and satellite locations offer off-track pari-mutuel wagering, and charitable gambling is allowed using games like bingo.
The state put the lottery on the ballot in 1987, and voters approved it. But there have been no ballot measures to legalize casinos or any major gambling expansion since then.
The laws as stated in the Virginia Code are rather basic, with definitions of gambling, placing wagers, and interstate gambling as standard. There is a mention of games of chance in the illegal gambling definition, as it states that illegal games or contests are based on obtaining something of value based on the result, whether or not the outcome is a matter of chance.
Penalties for gambling law violations range from serious misdemeanors to minor felonies, based on how a violation is classified.
Illegal gambling is defined as playing a get or wager for anything of value and dependent upon the result of any game inside or outside the border of Virginia. In that section, it makes clear that chance is not a factor as it pertains to gambling devices:
“Such devices are no less gambling devices if they indicate beforehand the definite result of one or more operations but not all the operations. Nor are they any less a gambling device because, apart from their own use or adaptability as such, they may also sell or deliver something of value on a basis other than chance.”
Most Recent Developments
There have been attempts throughout the past decade to legalize casinos or some type of gambling establishments that offer card games like poker. One legislator has pushed bills for a number of years to allow casinos, but the proposals typically don’t even garner a committee hearing.
The same legislator made an effort in January 2017 to not only change the gambling language in order to name poker as a game of skill and not part of the traditional gambling definition, but also to legalize poker games and tournaments throughout the state. The bill did find success in the Senate but failed to make any progress in the House, where it died.
But it seems that paid-entry fantasy sports contests are a different story. Virginia became the first state to legalize and regulate DFS in early 2016, which kicked off a trend that now includes more than a dozen other states.
As far as online gambling or sports betting, however, there seems little chance they will become a reality in the near future for Virginia.
Gambling Sites FAQ
Q: Can I play for real money on your recommended poker, gambling, and betting sites?
A: There are quite a few sites that offer online gambling choices for Virginians.
Q: Does state law enforcement intend to crack down on internet gaming?
A: There have been no indications that Virginia’s Attorney General or any law enforcement agency has the intention of pursuing gambling sites that are based outside of the United States and have been operating in the same fashion for years and, in some cases, decades. Taking such actions would be costly and complicated, due to the jurisdictions that would come into play, free trade agreements, and laws that protect internet freedoms.
Q: Should players be worried about a crackdown?
A: No. If players lose access to a particular site due to its exit from the Virginia or US market, there are other sites that will continue to operate for Virginia players. And there is nothing to worry about pertaining to the law and any potential violations, as no state has ever decided to prosecute the thousands of players who gambling online every day from within their state borders.
Q: What if one of your recommended sites shuts down? Will I get my money?
A: When online poker, casino, or sports betting sites obtain licenses from any jurisdiction around the world, they must agree to certain conditions and regulations. One of those implemented in most places now requires operators to segregate funds, meaning player account balances must be kept separate from all other company money. This ensures that players can be paid in the case of market changes, new laws, or even site closures.
Q: How do I deposit and withdraw money from these sites?
A: This process can vary from site to site. Many sites offer more deposit methods than anything else, and they tend to include debit and credit cards for US players, bank transfers and wires, and ewallets. Most of these are likely valid for players in Virginia. Withdrawals for US players, on the other hand, tend to be limited to one or two methods, with checks being the most popular. A new option has been added to many cashier pages, though, in the form of a cryptocurrency called bitcoin. New players tend to prefer bitcoin because of the anonymity, lack of paper trail, and quick deposits. The other benefit is that players can also withdraw funds using the same cryptocurrency. Check with your favorite site for details.