Virginia Gambling Laws

Virginia State gambling lawsQuite similar in ways to Hawaii and Alaska, gambling in Virginia is subject to some very strict gambling laws. For example, Virginia State Statutes have a narrow definition of what does-and-does-not constitute illegal gambling (see § 18.2-325 of the State Code).

That said, Fantasy Sports are legal and the Virginia State Lottery operates without restriction. Horse racing is legal in Virginia (albeit with no tracks-in-operation), however, off-track-betting is offered.

See table below for the standpoint on gambling online, online casino play, betting on sports etc. in Virginia

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos No No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker No No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Virginia Gambling Tax Rate

There is a 4% state tax on gambling winnings in Virginia.

Federal taxes may apply to large wins.

Virginia Legal Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Sports Betting Laws in Virginia

The possibility for Virginia Sports Betting has been facilitated by the win in the U.S. Supreme Court of 2018 of the state of New Jersey, a victory that overturned the long held Federal nationwide ban of betting on sports and effectively gave Virginians an opportunity to decide on the topic of sports betting for themselves without any Federal interference.

Sports Betting in Virginia

Sports bettors in Virginia have legal sports betting options in the form of horse and greyhound racing and DFS, where they can test and hone their sports betting skills without fear of punitive repercussions or breaking any state gambling laws.

However, any further form of sports betting such as betting on the Baltimore Orioles, The Washington Capitals, Nationals or Redskins is strictly prohibited (for the time being at least).

There have been no attempts by the State’s Legislators in Virginia to legalize sports betting in the past, however, there is some reason to be optimistic that it may happen soon. Several independent sources list Virginia as one of the states most likely to legalize sports betting within two years of the Supreme Court ruling against PASPA in May 2018. We will keep you up to date as the legal sports betting story unfolds in Virginia.

Is Sports Betting Online Legal in Virginia?

Online sports betting is currently unavailable in the Old Dominion State of Virginia.

In 2011, Bills H1584, HB 1700, and S 1195 were passed by the Virginia State Legislature. The snapshot outcome of these bills made it illegal to operate or play at an online gambling site based offered in the state by redefining illegal gambling to include internet gambling.

Online sports betting will need to cross the legal hurdle of undoing these gambling laws before the practice can be offered in Virginia.

For the time being, however, Virginia sports bettors can place bets online for horse and greyhound racing or online DFS competitions.

Moreover, Games of Skill are also exempt from Virginia’s strict gambling laws under section § 18.2-333 of the State Statutes and can be legally played by online players. The law states;

‘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.’

Casinos in Virginia

There are no commercial or tribal casinos in Virginia, however, there has been a precedent for the state’s lawmakers to legalize land-based casinos.

In 2014, State Legislators introduced SB 19 to legalize one land-based casino in the Old Dominion State.

Despite the bill being pulled before reaching the floor of the State Senate, it is important to note that there has previously been a taste for change in the State Legislature, and that may resurface again in the future.

Online Casinos in Virginia

Whilst the abovementioned attempt to legalize land-based casinos is encouraging, Virginian lawmakers have little history in attempting to legalize different types of online gambling. (Please see above section ‘Is Sports Betting Online Legal in Virginia?’ for full details on online options being included in the Virginia Law as illegal gambling)

Meanwhile then, online players in the State of Virginia are advised to participate in LEGAL online gambling games ONLY (i.e. Currently – Games of Skill, DFS and Horse and Greyhound Racing). Online players in the Old Dominion State should abstain from using ANY casinos online (either U.S. based online casinos or off-shore sites) until state legislators decide on a legal pathway for online casinos in Virginia.

Horse Racing Betting in Virginia

Ironically, placing wagers at racetracks is one of the forms of legal gambling in Virginia, however, the state’s last live track closed in 2014. Applications to hold a legal horse race in the State of Virginia can be placed through the Virginia Racing Commission.

Horse and Greyhound racing betting can only be conducted online in Virginia and a number of off-track betting facilities.

Track Side: Racetrack betting in Virginia is legal, but the last live racetrack in the state closed in 2014 after operating for an amazing 260 years plus.

Off-Track Betting (OTB) in Virginia

Betting is permitted in Virginia at a number of designated OTB branches.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Virginia

Horse Racing Betting Online is readily available to Virginia’s visitors and residents. Online racebooks available for legal betting are all easy to access and you may bet online directly from your tablet, phone, other mobile device or home computer.

Visitors and residents of Virginia can find attractive online odds on thoroughbred racing in the U.S. and all major horse racing venues worldwide.

Virginia Daily Fantasy Sports Law

U.S. Federal lawmakers have uniformly decided that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions are not reckoned to be gambling, and they are actually games of skill.

Virginia was quick to act following the Federal ruling and legalized DFS in 2016 under the State’s Fantasy Contests Act that was signed into law by State Governor Terry McAuliffe. The bill requires DFS sites to protect players by:

  • Registering with the state and to pay a $50 000 registration fee.
  • Prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from participating in DFS competitions,
  • Prohibiting employees from competing in real money contests and sharing confidential information, and;
  • Providing a gateway for customers to exclude themselves from playing in DFS competitions if required.

DFS Explained

Many people in the United States are not aware of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and never played the competitions before. However, with as many as almost 60 million playing the games nationwide, if you’ve not already heard of DFS, you soon will.

How does DFS work? It’s exciting, new and different. DFS is based on the season-long fantasy contests available in MMA, MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, PGA Golf and NCAA football and basketball. The NFL is by some way the most popular of all the DFS competitions.

In short, in a season-long fantasy competition, you and a group of other people (usually your work colleagues or close friends) select teams of (hopefully) well performing players. Your fantasy team accumulates points based on the selected players’ performances and statistics during an entire season. The competition winner is the person who drafts the collection of players that accumulate the most points whilst staying within their virtual salary cap used to ‘purchase’ their team.

DFS is closely related to a season-long competition, however, cut back to a single day or at most, a week’s games. In DFS, however, you could potentially be playing against millions of paying competitors, not just few close friends.

The massive prize money that can be won is the pool of cash accumulated from the millions of player’s minimal entry fees of a few dollars for each competition.

Winners of the DFS games (daily, weekly or season-long DFS competitions) can potentially win as much as $1 million for each DFS competition.

Poker Laws in Virginia

Previous moves (including Senate Bill 1400 in 2017) to classify Poker as a game of skill in the State of Virginia, and thereby be exempt from illegal gambling laws, have proved unsuccessful.

That being the case, Live Poker is not currently approved as legal gambling in Virginia and no legal opportunities exist to play for real money.

However, social poker games are acceptable under the law in Virginia under State Statute §18.2-334 as long as the operator of the game doesn’t turn a profit, and that the private residence is not commonly used for the social games.

Online Poker Laws in Virginia

Online Poker is illegal in Virginia. See above sections ‘Is Sports Betting Online Legal in Virginia?’ and ‘Online Casinos in Virginia’ and for further clarification.

Virginia eSports Betting

Once sports betting is legalized in Virginia, eSports will become a trusted and ‘family-friendly’ form of sports betting untarnished by the murky past of illegal sports betting in the state.

‘eSports’ – What is it?

eSports (video game play at the highest professional level) has transformed competitive gaming betting.

With its roots in the LAN gaming ‘underground’ communities of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, respectability, marketability and popularity of eSports has followed.

Today, it has become a full-fledged billion-dollar industry, and an official network of professional gaming tournaments and leagues playing games like Rocket League, Overwatch, Dota 2 and Fortnite. With each passing tournament, the prizes get richer and viewership increases.

Naturally, when money is there to be made, sports-bettors follow.

A global gambling scene has developed in eSports, with a full range of international bookmakers framing betting markets on the major network of global eSports tournaments.

Rather than creating a dark underground economy in Virginia, legalized betting on eSports could well assist in easing the sports betting legalization process in the state, and thereby adding to the state’s tax revenues to pay for infrastructure projects and improved state services like health, education and aged care services.

What Legal Gambling Could Mean for Virginia

  • Legalized casino gambling in Virginia could produce benefits such as ceasing the flow of residents to neighboring Maryland to play in legal casinos and keep millions of dollars in the Virginia State economy. It is estimated Virginians will gamble $700 million in Maryland in 2019.
  • Legalized gambling in the state could be a windfall of much-needed jobs for Virginia. The casino at National Harbor in nearby Maryland has provided 4000 of direct jobs there and hundreds more jobs in associated service industries.
  • An increase or expansion of the number of betting games and wagering options in Virginia will assist in killing off illegal gambling and associated criminal activities.
  • Legalized Tribal Casino Gambling could bring jobs, economic growth and prosperity to Virginia’s Native American communities, including the Pamunkey tribe.

History of Gambling in Virginia

1610; First anti-gambling laws adopted in Virginia.

1612; America’s first lottery “The Great Virginia Lottery’ held.

1744; Gambling banned in Virginia’s public areas.

1752; America’s first ever thoroughbred horse race held in Virginia.

1960; Illegal Gambling first introduced into the State Code of Law.

1987; Virginia State Lottery begins with proceeds diverted to the State Education System from the year 2000 onwards.

1994; Charitable Gambling Laws enacted as the practice becomes legal in Virginia.

2011; Online gambling made illegal in Virginia with Bills H1584, HB 1700, and S 1195 passing the Virginia State Legislature.

2012; Bill to introduce historic racing in Virginia fails.

2014; State Legislators in Virginia introduced unsuccessful bill SB 19 to legalize casino gambling.

2014; Virginia’s sole Horse Racing track closes.

2016; By passing the State’s Fantasy Contests Act into law, DFS is legalized in Virginia.

2017; Senate Bill 1400 (attempting to have Poker recognized as a game of skill, and therefore not considered gambling) fails to pass the State Legislature.



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