Gambling in Virginia

Gamblers Guide to Virginia

The state of Virginia laws on gambling is very simplified. Gaming clubs are not allowed and outrightly banned, but gaming club gaming titles in a social gaming setting are legally permitted. 

Virginia has stringent gambling laws that are strict about some types of gambling but a bit relaxed about others. For example, gaming clubs are not allowed and outrightly banned. However, gaming club gaming titles in a social gaming setting are legally permitted. This review covers everything you need to know about Virginia gambling sites, laws, and regulations.

E-gambling and Virginia Law Is E-gambling Legal in Virginia?

Virginia doesn’t have any specific section in the constitution regarding internet gambling laws, but the standing regulations cover e-gambling. There is nothing in the Virginia legal code that makes any particular distinction between online and land-based gaming. According to section 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code, gambling devices are defined as:

“a. Any device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other things, including books, records, and other papers, which are used in an illegal gambling operation or activity, and

b. Any machine, apparatus, implement, instrument, contrivance, board, or other things, 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 categorized as a gambling device, which is illegal in Virginia.

Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Virginia?

Yes. You could get arrested for gambling online in Virginia, but as at the moment, there has not been a record of any arrest. If arrested and charged with illegal gambling, section 18.2-326 of the Virginia Code states the penalty for unlawful 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 gambles, each person therein shall be guilty of illegal gambling.”

Virginia law enforcement is primarily concerned with stopping illegal gaming club outlets and poker rooms within the state, not online gamblers. This is very common in the United States. Most law enforcement working in vice categories like to focus their enforcement activity on providers rather than customers.

Is Virginia Going to Legalize Online Gaming?

It’s difficult to say for certain that Virginia is going to legalize online gaming. The state has banned gaming clubs; however, it allowed the use of the internet for the lottery. A print and play option is available on the Virginia Lottery website for the lottery, bingo, blackjack, and crossword gaming titles. If Virginia continues its trend of legalizing online forms of gaming, sites for legal, regulated gambling could be available soon.

How Do I Choose a Good Online Gaming Site?

If you’re not prepared to wait for legalization, there are a lot of offshore gambling companies in foreign jurisdictions that are willing to take your action. It should be noticed that patronizing these international outlets might be technically illegal, although the likelihood of arrest and prosecution is minimal. The following are some things that should be done 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 gamblers. 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 cons of a specific 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 website easily is essential to having fun at a gambling site.

Gaming title Variety

Make sure the site you’re considering has your favorite gaming titles and ones that you might want to try. Having a tasty variety of gaming titles keeps you entertained. It’s silly to sign up at an online gaming club that only offers slot machines if you want to play live dealer blackjack, for example.

Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?

If you know how to search for genuine ones, offshore gambling sites are safe. You should make findings of the longevity and the license of a foreign gambling outlet before choosing them. This will help in understanding the 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 gaming club in Las Vegas. If you have a dispute with an outlet in a foreign country, the stress you’d have to go through to take any kind of legal action is ridiculous and expensive. For this reason, it is advised that gambling is done 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. There are, however, some legal restrictions that must be observed. Residents must be 18 or older to play. Daily fantasy sports sites must pay a $50,000 one-time fee to Virginia to operate in the state legally.

More Gambling Laws in Virginia

  • Gaming club Gaming titles (Illegal)
  • Sports Betting (Legal)
  • Race Betting (Legal)
  • Lottery (Legal)
  • Bingo (Charitable Gaming Only)
  • Social Gambling (Legal)

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 things 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 gaming title, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such gaming title, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth.”

Gaming club Gaming titles: Illegal

No form of a gaming club, be it tribal or otherwise, are legal in Virginia. The punishment 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 over thirty days or (ii) has a 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.”

Also, owning or operating a slot machine or other devices for gambling is illegal in Virginia. Here’s the penalty for unlawful 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 are legally permitted in Virginia. You are allowed to bet on and off-track in Virginia, with authorized betting terminals that can be found 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.”

This is 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 following 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 things 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 according 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 according 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 not allowed in Virginia.

Lottery: Legal

Virginia has a lottery that operated and regulated by the state. The proceedings from the lottery are diverted towards public education. Here’s what the Virginia Lottery website says:

“Since 1988, the Virginia Lottery has been producing fun and exciting gaming titles for Virginians to enjoy. When gamblers have fun, the Lottery has fun! With every gaming title 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 gaming titles, including draw gaming titles, scratchers, print ‘n play, and promotional gaming titles. Scratcher prices range from $1 to $30.

Bingo: Charitable Gaming Only

Charitable gaming is legally permitted in Virginia. There are specific organizations allowed to operate philanthropic gaming titles. These include charitable organizations and fire departments. Here are the gaming titles 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 gaming titles. All gaming titles not explicitly authorized by this article or Board regulations adopted following § 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 gaming titles to be played two to four days a week, but special permits can be granted to enable play every day of the week. The maximum bingo prize money or merchandise defined by the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions is the following:

“ No organization shall award any bingo prize money or any merchandise valued more than 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 gaming title 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 gaming titles shall be accounted for separately from the bingo cards or sheets used for any other bingo gaming titles.” 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 gaming club gaming titles 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 gaming title of chance conducted in a private residence, provided such private residence is not commonly used for such gaming titles of chance, and there is no operator as defined in subsection 4 of § 18.2-325.”

Gambling Venues in Virginia

No gaming clubs can be found in Virginia, but bingo halls are located throughout the state.

History of Gambling in Virginia 


The local governments made deliberations and decisions on charitable gambling laws.


Virginia State Lottery is legalized.


The Virginia Racing Commission, or VRC for short, is founded to oversee and regulate pari-mutuel betting.


A bill attempting to create a riverboat gaming commission is denied by the committee.


Virginia’s only horse track, Colonial Downs, starts operation.


Off-track betting facilities are now overseen by the VRC.


EZ betting terminals was established in Virginia


Another bill attempts to legalize riverboat gambling, and it fails.

The Future

Bills to legalize riverboat gaming clubs have been proposed several times, but at this point, it has been denied every time. The Virginia government seems determined to keep land-based or boat gaming clubs from coming to their state. Although Virginia has outlawed gaming club gambling, it’s been legalized forms of online gaming. For example, Virginia legalized daily fantasy sports before any other country, and the state lottery has utilized the internet for some time. Based on these facts, Virginia gambling sites with state-regulated gaming titles could be coming soon.