Gambling History in Virginia

  • Overview of gambling in Virginia
  • The strict laws of the state
  • First casino might be opened in the state
gambling in Virginia, US, horse races, casino, poker, bingo, lottery, online gambling

Virginia is not one of the most “gambling friendly” states in the US. Moreover, it has very strict laws and only several types of gambling are legal in the state. However, gambling history in Virginia might change soon with its possible first casino opening in the State. 

Gambling History in Virginia: The laws

Virginia gambling laws are one of the strictest in the States. 

Bingo, a state lottery, horse racing, and daily fantasy sports are legal in the state. To play these games you should be over 18. Any other gambling activity is considered illegal in Virginia.   

According to state law, private gambling activities like home poker games are also legal.  

Online gambling is illegal in Virginia. It is illegal to operate a gambling site or play on online gambling sites in the US. However, the law does not mention cover offshore gaming, so many people still play at online casinos, poker sites that are located not in the US. 

Virginia may have its first casino this year

gambling in Virginia, US, horse races, casino, poker, bingo, lottery, online gambling
Virginia might have its first casino this year.

Times have changed for gamblers in Virginia. In reality, it’s one of the few states which still bans casinos. But the discussion around the topic is evolving. In fact, the state might have its first casino this year changing gambling history in Virginia. Although, we don’t know yet how many casinos there will be in the state and by what means.

The next legislative session will include gambling themes related to online gambling, betting machines but most importantly the casinos. The issue was hot all last year. Now, several groups continue the heavy lobbying to make sure they have the much-needed laws.

Among other groups, the Indian Pamunkey tribe is most likely to gain the right to build the first casino. They have one of the oldest reservations in the United States. The tribe has been working for the casino projects for more than 30 years.

Unlike the other groups, the Indians have a more chance to build a casino. The reason for this is their status. In detail, the Tribe has federal recognition under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The plan is to build two casinos, one in Norfolk and one in Richmond. The Norfolk project will require the passing of a bill and approval from the state government. But the Richmond casino can be built under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The plan for Richmond is to build a huge 350-million-dollar hotel with a casino. In fact, according to the tribe, the construction of the casino will bring one 1000 temporary and 1500 permanent jobs. Further, according to the tribe’s spokesman, the funds earned in this institution will be forwarded to resolve the social issues of the Tribe. 


Gambling came to Virginia with British colonists. According to some resources, underground horse races took place in the state since the 16th century. Horse racing was very popular in the state. In fact, the first racetrack in Virginia was built in 1739 at Williamsburg.  

However, horse racing became illegal in 1897. This didn’t completely stop all the horse racing – it just made it underground. Since 1989 horse racing became legal again and started to generate more than $100 million annually between 2000 and 2014 when the Colonial Downs track closed. 

Bingo is legal in the state since 1973, whereas a state lottery since 1987. 

These Virginians have plenty of – there are over 600 bingo halls and thousands of lottery retailers in the state.  

Don’t forget to check on online gambling news in the US to stay updated on the topic.

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