Virginia Gambling Laws

Virginia State Gambling

When it comes to this US state, casino gambling is not common. Namely, there are no commercial or tribal establishments in which you can enjoy your favorite games of chance. Instead, there are only 3 different types of live gambling which are legal, but they were still a long time coming.

However, though the Virginia law is strict about casinos, there are many other options for all the passionate gamblers. First, they can rent certain casino games, which are regulated by different state documents and laws. Then, the state provides a service that can transfer you to the nearest casino in any of the neighboring states. Also, you can attend some of the many “party casinos.” These particular establishments provide all casino games you can think of but with a catch — you don’t play for real money. In addition, some players like to get on a sailing boat and take their gambling endeavors to the international waters since they do not belong to any state and are considered a free zone.

The unique approach that Virginia takes towards gambling involves a special network of points that players can use to enjoy their gambling experiences. They have the option of pari-mutuel racehorse gambling which is a 20-year old tradition here and is controlled by the Virginia Racing Commission. Next, they can visit one of the many electronic devices in bars and restaurants across the country for the same purpose. As you can see, for each casino game that is allowed, there is at least more than one option of playing it.

The History of Virginia Gambling

History Gambling in Virginia

Though horse racing is considered to be a favorite gambling activity in this state, the first one that was actually legalized was Bingo, back in 1973. Fast-forward to 1987, the state lottery was also brought to the mix, as well as some kinds of charitable gambling. In 1997, the race track betting came into play. To this day, Virginia only has one race track — the “Colonial Downs,” which hosts the races of some of the finest breeds of horses in the world.

When it comes to sports betting, people have enjoyed Daily Fantasy Sports since 2016. Though this option has been possible for just a few years, it gathered a lot of passionate players. These two are also the only options for online gambling.

In addition, this state attempted to legalize riverboat casinos, but without much success. Namely, this first came up in 1995, but the request never even made it long enough to turn into a bill or at least a proposal for the Senate. A similar thing happened again in 2013, so it is safe to say that riverboat casinos won’t be available any time soon.

Also, the law was pretty clear over the years that poker would not be allowed at all as a casino game. Namely, only non-profit games are permitted, without a fee or placing a bet or wager.

So, What’s Left?

As we’ve mentioned before, there are only three legal options for gambling in the state. The first one is the state lottery which also implies the use of scratch-offs and lotto tickets, which can be bought in most convenient stores. When it comes to Bingo, you can play it in one of the 600 halls in the state.

When it comes to race tracks, there are actually no live races in which you can enjoy. The last one was held back in 2014 at the Colonial Downs. The off-track betting was also available, and you’d make an advanced deposit online first. However, since the shutdown of the tracks, this option is not available anymore.

It is especially important to say that casino gambling is not legal in Virginia. Aside from the race tracks, the state lottery and the online poker, there aren’t many options. That is why the players rather go to West Virginia, North Carolina, or even Maryland and Delaware.

What Does the Law Say?

In the core of the Virginia law, there is a clear term — placing a bet on any “uncertain or a matter of chance” activity is considered illegal and faces charges. This covers a wide selection of table games, especially poker.

Illegal gambling is defined as any placement of a wager of money or another thing of value in order to win a prize and is “dependent upon the result of any game” or an event where the outcome is uncertain. This, once again, pretty clearly shows that the majority of standard casino games are excluded and not allowed in Virginia.

There is also a separate part about playing social games in private residences. Namely, they are forbidden as they raise too much suspicion and can’t be regulated since they occur in privacy.

Felony Charges

Virginia has had its fair share of criminal activities in this area. One of these was the big bust of a Vietnamese-American gang that hosted regular gambling nights in a shopping center. This case was very highly publicized, and the notorious “Dragon Family” succeeded to acquire a profit of over $1 million before eventually getting caught. Also, in 2013 a group was caught running home social gaming events, acquiring around $2000 each night!

Handcuffs crime

However, the most disturbing case that has happened in Virginia was the case of a casual sports gambler who unknowingly befriended an undercover cop who encouraged him to raise the stakes. Eventually, he stormed his home with a full-on SWAT team, leaving the player dead despite being unarmed during the action.

What the Future Holds

As we can conclude, Virginia has made peace with not being the center of the action in the gambling community. The few gambling options that are allowed gather a decent number of enthusiastic players. But with the Downing Halls being shut down, people are missing out on the kind of betting that grew to be beloved by the Virginia natives. However, it seems that Virginia is getting ready to broaden its horizons in the near future.

Recently, the building of five casinos was proposed, namely, in Danville, Bristol, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Richmond. In March 2019, a law was passed by the state general assembly giving the citizens a chance to approve a casino in their city. The Lottery Board will be responsible for regulating casino games. The prospects of first casinos getting their licenses give passionate Virginia gamblers a lot to look forward to in the future.