Virginia Gambling Laws


Posted: April 13, 2016

Updated: April 13, 2016

Virginia is not a casino-friendly state. However, the state’s legislators showed great leadership when it came to regulating the daily fantasy sports market. Unfortunately, this decision does not affect the strict Virginia gambling laws.

Virginia gambling laws

Virginia is not a top destination for gamblers. Among US gambling laws, theirs are in the strict tier, with only charity gambling, horse race betting and lottery allowed. However, as you will see in this overview of Virginia gambling laws, the state’s legislature can be really forward-thinking in some aspects.

Virginia gambling laws specify illegal gambling instead of gambling, but other than that, the definition is similar to most states. The Virginia Code defines illegal gambling as betting or wagering something of value “in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value” on a “contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance.

Furthermore, Virginia gambling laws prohibit illegal gambling both inside or outside the state. As the code puts, it doesn’t matter “whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth,” it’s still illegal gambling. Illegal gambling in Virginia is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punished by a fine not more than USD 500.

A popular and legal form of gambling in Virginia is pari-mutuel betting on horse races. In this field, Virginia gambling laws are permissive and modern. The laws allow for off-track betting and even for remote, electronic betting machines. Kiosks can be found at more than 100 venues, including restaurants and bars. Besides betting, only charitable and social gaming are allowed.

Is there any chance for the legalization of casino-style gambling in Virginia? “Forty-nine states will have it before we get it,said Senator Dick Saslaw. According to Saslaw, the House has no intentions to bring casinos to Virginia, not even tribal ones. His claims are backed by the many failed attempts to loosen Virginia gambling laws.

Online Gambling in Virginia

Just like land-based gambling, online gambling is illegal in Virginia. The state’s laws can be easily applied to internet betting. Gambling is illegal through “any device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other thing, including books, records and other papers.

There’s no record of anybody getting fined for internet gambling, but this fact does not make it lawful. Most states don’t specifically ban internet gaming since the existing laws are supposed to cover it in general. 

Lotteries in Virginia

The Virginia Lottery was created in 1988 and it offers numerous draw games scratch-off cards. The lottery’s profits go towards public education. At the moment players “can buy a subscription online to Mega Millions if you have a Virginia mailing address,” but there’s no actual way to purchase Virginia Lottery tickets online.

Daily Fantasy Sports in Virginia

Virginia was the first state to formally permit daily fantasy sports. In March 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed the Fantasy Contest Act, providing a framework for operating Daily Fantasy Sports in Virginia. The license costs USD 50,000 and operators have to ensure that all players are older than 18 years.

Some might find this act surprising, since almost all forms of gambling are outlawed by Virginia laws. However, legislators consider Daily Fantasy Sports a game of skill and not gambling. “Governor McAuliffe and members of the Virginia legislature took a thoughtful, deliberative approach to establishing a law that safeguards fantasy sports while installing consumer protections,” commented a lawyer of FanDuel.

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