IS ONLINE GAMBLING LEGAL IN VIRGINIA?
The legislation regarding gambling was written before the invention of the internet. For this reason, online gambling is not mentioned in the law books. It is however understood that the existing laws are broad enough to pose for law on internet gambling practices, as well.
Federal law in the States outlaws online gambling, so unless Virginia has laws specifically legalising it in State (which they don’t), online gambling I considered illegal under the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’.
There are no land-based casinos in Virginia, in either the greater state or on tribal lands.
Most of the casino gambling in the region is carried out across the state border, in Maryland.
There have been attempts to legalise River Boat Casinos in Virginia, with the last bill presented in 2013. Each time, the bills do not even make it to senate, showing the overall intolerance shown towards casinos and chance betting by the people.
As all online gambling is illegal in state, online Poker must follow suit. There are also no licensed poker rooms in Virginia, but you can play at home under some restrictions.
Social games can be played as long as no one is benefitting from raking the pots or hosting the games.
Online sports betting is illegal in state.
Pari-mutuel betting on horse races is however allowed in Virginia. The state has one race track (Colonial Downs) where bets can be lodged. Bets can also be placed at satellite offices or at EZ Betting terminals at bars and restaurants around the state.
Here, the games are betted and watched in simulcast. This constitutes as innovative and progressive thinking on the side of the state towards gambling.
Virginia were the first state to legalise Daily Fantasy Sports in February 2016, thus ending the hot debate on whether these forms of gaming constituted for chance betting. Virginia acknowledges Fantasy Sports as a paid for game of skill and as such, has allowed their residents to enjoy playing them.
Operating costs for Fantasy Sports operations, like FanDuel and DraftKings is $50,000 per year, which is paid to the state.
Virginia runs a legal state lottery. Residents can buy tickets at stores around the state. All of the profits are given towards the development of education in the state. Other charitable games, like Bingo are also allowed in state, so long as gaming hosts are not profiting from the game at all.
Age restrictions are different, depending on the form of gambling a person is doing. Horse Betting requires a gambler to be 21 years of age or older, while lottery, bingo and fantasy sports require that players be at least 18 years of age or older.
All charitable gaming in the state of Virginia is overseen and regulated by the ‘Charitable Gaming Board’. This regulator reports directly to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).
All horse racing and pari-mutuel betting activities are regulated by the Virginia Racing Commission, which is a governmental run organisation. They can be contacted on (804) 966-7400 or via email on Kimberly.Mackey@VRC.Virginia.gov
For all gambling related problems, feel free to make contact with the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia on: 1-800-GAMBLER. Counselling and referrals are done via our 24-hour call line. Call now to speak to an expert counsellor.
Nationally, there is a centre for helps in gambling addictions, called SAMSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration). They are available on 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Here, one can receive 24 hour a day service for treatment referrals for those struggling with addictions.
Another great National helpline for problem gambling is the NCPG (National Council on Problem Gambling). They have offices in Virginia and are dedicated to offering self-help resources, provide referrals and offer counselling to all those in need. You can contact them on:
- Phone or Text: 1-800-522-4700
- Chat Line: ncpgambling.org/chat
While the laws in Virginia regarding casino gambling are strict, the concessions towards simulcast pari-mutuel betting on horses and a lenient attitude towards social gaming is admirable. The state does not however seem to have a progressive stance towards legalising casino gambling anytime soon, either for land-based or online casino operators.
The precedent set for the legalisation of Fantasy Sports may be a strong suggestion that bills may be accepted by the senate with regards to legalising other forms of skill games, such as poker etc in the future. For now, we advise you to strongly adhere to the state laws and to avoid all forms of casino betting, especially online. There are many casino businesses trying to lure players into betting on their games under the pretence that internet is a grey area in the States – Do not be deceived by these pleas, as internet gambling is very much outlawed in Virginia.