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Virginia Poker Laws & Legal Betting in VA

Is Online Poker Legal in Virginia?
Virginia Poker Laws & Legal Betting in VA
Last Updated January 6, 2021

Virginia is for lovers, or so goes the old tourism slogan for the state. It’s also for American presidents (eight have been born there), those seeking education (more advanced institutions per capita than nearly any other state) and – of course – poker players. The population of the state is young, diverse and generally well-off, a demographic that generally enjoys high online poker participation rates. As the game’s popularity continues to expand, more visitors contact us with questions about online poker in Virginia – questions that we’ll cover in this always-updated Virginian’s Guide to Playing Poker Online.

Recent Updates into 2021

Though Virginia has traditionally stayed away from legalizing much gambling, that may change in the coming years. A shuttered mall and racetrack both seek the help of casino games to bring their businesses back to life.

There have been previous attempts to legalize casino gambling in the state, but few garnered much support. State Senator Louise Lucas proposed that the legislature declare poker a game of skill and exclude it from the state’s current anti-gambling statutes, a bill that passed the Senate in 2017 but not the other side of the legislature.

Some have been successful. Virginia became the first state to legalize and regulate DFS in 2016, which is now happening in many other states as well. The Virginia General Assembly authorized slot machines for Colonial Downs in a revitalization effort, and that law did pass in 2018.

The latest project is being spearheaded by a lobbying group hired by the owners of the empty Bristol Mall. They are currently speaking to lawmakers about authorizing a casino for the space. Some legislators believe the support isn’t there to pass a bill yet, but they acknowledge the need for additional revenue and the tourism going to neighboring states with legal gambling casinos.

Virginia pursued a casino bill in 2019. Technically, it was pre-filed on December 28, 2018 by Virginia Senator L. Louise Lucas. SB.1126 moved quickly, passing through the Committee on General Laws and Technology in January and then through the Finance Committee nine days later. It then went to the Senate floor and passed by a vote of 28-12. The House Rules committee passed it, and it went to the floor of the House, where it passed 80-17 on February 4. A few changes required more votes, but it happened in early March.

Governor Ralph Northam signed the bill on March 22, which allows for casinos to be built if approved by the appropriate citizens through local referendums, along with two casinos to be handled by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The Virginia Lottery Board will oversee all of the processes.

Importantly, the Lottery Board may also develop regulations for online gaming and sports betting if it so chooses. This will include online poker and casino games. It is unclear as to how lottery officials will interpret and if they will draft regulations, but it is now in their hands.

Virginia Gambling & Poker Laws Summarized

State Code Section(s);;
Definition of Illegal GamblingThe making, placing or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of money or other thing 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 game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth. This includes the purchase of a product, Internet access, or other thing, which purchase credits the purchaser with free points or other measurable units that may be risked by the purchaser for an opportunity to win additional points or other measurable units that are redeemable by the purchaser for money or redeemed by the purchaser for money, and but for the free points or other measurable units, the purchase of the product, Internet access, or other thing would be of insufficient value in and of itself to justify the purchase or is merely incidental to the chance to win money.
Definition of Gambling DeviceAny device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other thing, including books, records and other papers, which are actually used in an illegal gambling operation or activity.
Definition of Bet A bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value specified in the agreement.
Definition of Interstate GamblingThe conduct of an enterprise for profit which engages in the purchase or sale within the Commonwealth of any interest in a lottery of another state or country whether or not such interest is an actual lottery ticket, receipt, contingent promise to pay, order to purchase, or other record of such interest.
Online Poker/GamblingLawmakers have shown no interest in legalized online poker or gaming.
Live PokerThere are no casinos or legal poker rooms in Virginia. There was an effort in 2017 to designate poker as a game of skill and allow poker games and tournaments, and it did pass the Senate but died in the House.
CasinosVirginia does not allow casinos, despite the efforts of one legislator for several years.
Sports BettingThere have been no proposals to consider legalizing sports betting.
DFSVirginia became the first state to legalize daily fantasy sports contests.
Other Forms of GamblingHorse racing, off-track pari-mutuel betting, bingo and charitable gambling like raffles, lottery, games of chance in private residences.

Online Poker Sites in Virginia

Choosing a VA internet poker site doesn’t sound like much of a task – until you set about doing it. That’s when you realize how helpful it would be to have the perspective of other players who have already been in your situation, who have already compared all of the poker sites in Virginia and assembled the best picks in a handy list. Good news: you do.  This real money poker page is continually updated and reflects operators with the top combination of promotional value, security and reliability:

Poker Sites Open to Players From Your State
Bovada$500 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Ignition$2000 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Intertops$600 Bonus5 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Wires
BetOnline$2500 Bonus5-7 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Wires
Sportsbetting$2500 Bonus5-7 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Wires

How Do I Play Online Poker in Virginia?

There are certainly states in America – Washington comes to mind as one – where residents do face a real challenge finding an online poker site that will let them play real cash games. Virginia laws do not fall into that category, so playing VA online poker is just as easy as doing anything else online.

Once you choose one of the top poker sites and make an account, your only remaining hurdle will be depositing funds into that account.  The most popular methods for doing so for players from the state of Virginia: credit cards such as VISA and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Virginia Law and Online Poker Games

What view does Virginia betting laws take of playing online poker for money?  Questions about gambling can be murky affairs, and questions about Virginia online gambling tend to be doubly so.  We don’t pretend to have the legal background to offer absolute answers to such questions, but we can provide you with objective information about Virginia poker laws and leave it to you to decide.

Virginia law has a pretty standard definition of gambling provided via Section 18-2-325.  Basically, betting anything of value on anything that is “uncertain or a matter of chance” qualifies as illegal gambling in Virginia.

If you participate in illegal gambling as a player, you could face a misdemeanor charge (Section 18-2-326).

If you’re on the business side of illegal gambling activity, there are a number of charges you could potentially face under Virginia law.  The primary charge for operators is “Conducting illegal gambling operation,” which is a felony (Section 18-2-238).

Cheaters face an interesting punishment in Virginia.  Get caught cheating at gambling and you could be forced to a pay a fine equal to five to ten times the amount won via the cheating (Section 18-2-327).

Private gambling – commonly referred to as social gambling – is permitted in Virginia per the conditions set forth in Section 18-2-334.

Virginia law allows individual counties to come up with their own laws regarding gambling restriction, so players should check with their local law in addition to becoming familiar with state gambling law.

Read more: Virginia state code online below.

Will Virginia Regulate Online Poker?

It’s always tough to put a specific number on a state’s chances of regulating online poker, but with Virginia online poker laws,  it is safe to say that regulated online poker in VA is, at best, an underdog. There simply isn’t any indication that the state government intends to even look at the issue of legal online gambling. If regulation takes off in bordering states, then Virginia’s chances improve – but they will still likely remain below average for real money poker sites.

All Poker and Gambling Laws by State

Virginia in the News
  • March 25th, 2019

    Lawmakers in Virginia have been considering legalized gambling within its borders for years. Beyond the lottery and a horse racing track, there is little gambling for residents or to attract visitors. Occasionally, a bill to authorize land-based casinos would be proposed, but there was rarely enough support to even get

    Read Full
  • September 6th, 2018

    Virginia offers little legalized gambling outside of the lottery. There is one horse racing track, Colonial Downs, which is located in New Kent between Williamsburg and Richmond, and pari-mutuel wagering to go with it. And limited charitable gambling in the form of bingo and similar games is allowed by law.

    Read Full
  • February 3rd, 2017

    United States lottery officials are concerned about the future growth of their games, because millennial gamblers seem less interested in playing the lotto than their parents. The US lottery industry generated $80 billion in sales in 2015, more than the combined sales for movie tickets, musical concerts, and song downloads.

    Read Full
  • January 30th, 2016

    An illegal gambling ring set up by a former USC Trojans football player is alleged to have used terror tactics against its victims. Some of the tactics used include mailed videos of beheadings, as well as photos of the desecration of the grave sites of victim’s deceased family members. The

    Read Full

Virginia Gambling Facts

There are no casinos in the state of Virginia, and no tribal gambling facilities either. That leaves the Virginia Lottery, pari-mutuel betting and charitable gambling as the state’s regulated gambling lineup. Social gambling also enjoys an exemption from VA online gambling laws.

What sort of activity is permitted under the charitable gambling exceptions to Virginia state law? The major forms are bingo games and raffles, with select additional activities available depending on the type and status of your organization.

Does Virginia Offer any Regulated Online Gambling?

You won’t find any Virginia licensed online poker sites or casinos because they don’t exist. The state of Virginia does not regulate any forms of Internet-based gambling – and it doesn’t look they’ll be getting into the business of doing so any time soon.

Virginia Gambling Resources

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services . The DACS is responsible for regulating charitable gambling in Virginia. Get all of the facts related to Virginia charitable gambling at the DACS homepage.

Casinos Near the DC Area . This guide from About.com will walk you through all of the casino options in the region surrounding Virginia. While there aren’t any casinos in Virginia, there are a number of options that are barely an hour away from most parts of the state.

Virginia Gambling Laws . Complete text of the gambling and charitable gambling law on Virginia’s books, along with text of all 50 state laws regarding gambling.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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