Virginia is one of the more restrictive US states when it comes to gambling laws. Land-based casinos are completely outlawed (including tribal casino establishments), and the same goes for betting on greyhound races. However, Virginia does allow a few forms of land-based gambling. Horse racing, pari-mutuel wagering, and off-track betting at licensed facilities are legal, as well as charitable gambling. Virginia is also the first US state to introduce a state-run lottery that was briefly banned but was legalized again in 1987.
So, where does that leave online gambling? Well, the answer is not quite simple. In this article, we are going to try and explain which forms of online gambling are allowed in the state of Virginia and give you a few tips on how to circumvent the state’s strict gambling laws. Read on!
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Gambling in Virginia is covered in the Code of Virginia under sections 18.2-325 and 59.1-364. While the Code clearly states which forms of gambling are legal or illegal, there are no clear mentions of gambling over the internet. However, the definition of what’s considered illegal gambling is fairly broad, meaning that the prosecutors can impose the law on people who decide to play on gambling sites, and this counts for offshore gambling sites as well.
So, offshore gambling can be treated as any other form of illegal gambling, being classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor for horse race betting and Class 3 misdemeanor for all other forms of gambling. In practice, however, rarely does anyone get punished for playing on international casino sites. Of course, this is not to say that we advise you to play in offshore casinos. The risk is still there, and not only from a legal standpoint. Namely, not all offshore gambling platforms are properly licensed, which can leave you worrying about whether you will get fair treatment.
On the other hand, there are some forms of online gambling that have recently been made legal in the state. As a matter of fact, Virginia was the first US state to legalize daily fantasy sports in early 2016, declaring it a game of skill. Therefore, plenty of DFS sites can be accessed by Virginian residents, including the most popular ones such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fantasy Draft.
While the lottery is legal in Virginia for both local and multi-state draws (Powerball and MegaMillions included), players don’t have the option to purchase lottery tickets online. Scratchcards are also legally sold to overage residents, but you will have to buy them through land-based retail shops.
Does this mean that the only way in which you can gamble online in Virginia is through DFS sites? Well, pretty much. Virginia does not have a very healthy gambling industry, considering that both tribal and commercial casinos are banned. This means that the state is not able to sustain a major online casino operation. Unfortunately, we saw no serious attempts by the state legislators to push for the legalization of online gambling. In all honesty, it is unlikely that online gambling will become legal in Virginia any time soon.
With everything that was previously said, offshore gambling is still quite popular in Virginia. As we mentioned earlier, online gamblers can be prosecuted in the same way as people taking part in illegal land-based gambling (Class 3 misdemeanor), but the authorities simply don’t bother with harassing online players, so the risks are quite low.
If you do decide to take that risk and play on offshore casino sites, you will be happy to know that the majority of top-rated international online casinos do accept US residents — Virginians included. However, you should be careful when choosing your online casino, as they are not all properly licensed. Always check the licensing number and safety protocols of a given site before deciding to play there.
As we mentioned in our intro, Virginia does not have any land-based casino facilities, as they are all outlawed. While some other states where casino gambling is illegal at least allow the operation of tribal casino establishments, Virginia doesn’t have any of those either.
However, there are a few places where you can experience casino-like entertainment. For example, there’s the Rosie’s Gaming Emporium on four different locations across the state (Hampton Road, Richmond, Vinton, and New Kent), where you can play over 2,000 HHR (historical horse racing) games similar to video slots. There’s also a special area for simulcast horse race betting.
Also, if you’re not seasick and are willing to take a boat ride, you might find a few interesting spots, like the Triple Cherrys Casino Tours in Virginia Beach.
None of these options offer what one might consider “classic casino gaming” with popular slot machines and table games such as poker, blackjack, and roulette, but it’s still something. One thing that works in favor of Virginia residents despite them not having any legal casinos is their proximity to other states where this form of gambling is allowed.
Namely, it takes just a few hours by car to reach the states of Delaware and New Jersey, where most forms of gambling are allowed. You will need less than six hours from Virginia Beach or Richmond to Atlantic City, where you can find some of the most luxurious casinos in the eastern part of the United States. Both Delaware and New Jersey belong to the narrow selection of US states where online gambling is fully regulated and legal, so you’ll have plenty of options to enjoy playing your favorite casino games over the internet as well.
We hope that this article was informative and that you learned something about gambling laws in Virginia. While the state laws prohibit both online and land-based casinos, there are ways in which you can play quality casino games, but they involve you taking a risk with offshore sites or traveling to a nearby state where gambling is legal.
With that said, some forms of gambling are allowed. Daily fantasy sports has been legal since 2016, and you can access many trusted DFS sites from Virginia. Horse racing and lotteries are also legal, and quite popular as well.
Online gambling in Virginia is not regulated, meaning that there are no state-based operators who are allowed to run gambling sites in the state.
No, land-based gambling is illegal in Virginia. However, there are a few places where you can enjoy casino-like games, such as Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.
Offshore casinos are technically illegal in Virginia, but many players decide to play on them anyway, considering there’s little to no effort made by the authorities to punish those players.
Horse racing, lotteries, bingo halls, charity gambling, and daily fantasy sports are the only legal forms of gambling in the state. DFS sites can be accessed online legally, while other gambling types can only be pursued in physical locations.
The minimum gambling age in Virginia is 18, and it counts for all legal forms of gambling.