Quite similar in some ways to the very strict Hawaii and Alaska, gambling in Virginia is subject to some very strict gambling laws. For example, Virginia State Statutes have a narrow definition of what does-and-does-not constitute illegal gambling (see § 18.2-325 of the State Code).

That said, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are legal and the Virginia State Lottery operates without restriction. Horse racing is legal in Virginia (albeit with no tracks in operation), however, off-track and online betting is offered.

A popular state lottery, home poker games and some limited charitable gaming options round out the available legal options in Virginia.

Virginia Casino Gambling

There are no commercial or tribal casinos in Virginia, however, there has been a precedent for the state’s lawmakers to legalize land-based casinos.

In 2014, State Legislators introduced SB 19 to legalize one land-based casino in the Old Dominion State.

Despite the bill being pulled before reaching the floor of the State Senate, it is important to note that there has previously been a taste for change in the State Legislature, and that may resurface again in the future.

Online Casinos in Virginia

Whilst the abovementioned attempt to legalize land-based casinos is encouraging, Virginian lawmakers have little history in attempting to legalize different types of online gambling.

Bills H1584, HB 1700, and S 1195 were passed in 2011 by the Virginia State Legislature. These bills made it illegal to operate or play at an online gambling site based offered in the state by redefining illegal gambling to include internet gambling.

For the time being, however, Virginians can place bets online for horse and greyhound racing or online DFS competitions. Games of Skill are also exempt from Virginia’s strict gambling laws under section § 18.2-333 of the State Statutes.

Online players in the State of Virginia are advised to participate in LEGAL online gambling games ONLY (i.e. Currently – Games of Skill, DFS and Horse and Greyhound Racing). Online players in the Old Dominion State should abstain from using ANY casinos online (either U.S. based online casinos or off-shore sites) until state legislators decide on a legal pathway for online casinos in Virginia.

Poker in Virginia

Home ‘Social’ games are tolerated in the state of Virginia, under the State Statute §18.2-334 as long as the operator of the game doesn’t turn a profit, and that the private residence is not commonly used for the social games.

Poker Rooms

Previous moves (including Senate Bill 1400 in 2017) to classify Poker as a game of skill in the State of Virginia, and thereby be exempt from illegal gambling laws, have proved unsuccessful.
That being the case, Live Poker is not currently approved as legal gambling in Virginia and no legal opportunities exist to play for real money.

Online Poker Laws

Online Poker is not a legal option in the state of Virginia. See above section – ‘Online Casinos in Virginia’ for further clarification.

  • Legalized casino gambling in Virginia could produce benefits such as ceasing the flow of residents to neighboring Maryland to play in legal casinos and keep millions of dollars in the Virginia State economy. It is estimated Virginians will gamble $700 million in Maryland in 2019.
  • Legalized gambling in the state could be a windfall of much-needed jobs for Virginia. The casino at National Harbor in nearby Maryland has provided 4000 of direct jobs there and hundreds more jobs in associated service industries.
  • An increase or expansion of the number of betting games and wagering options in Virginia will assist in killing off illegal gambling and associated criminal activities.
  • Legalized Tribal Casino Gambling could bring jobs, economic growth and prosperity to Virginia’s Native American communities, including the Pamunkey tribe.

History of Online & Land-Based Gambling in Virginia

1610; First anti-gambling laws adopted in Virginia.

1612; America’s first lottery “The Great Virginia Lottery’ held.

1744; Gambling banned in Virginia’s public areas.

1752; America’s first ever thoroughbred horse race held in Virginia.

1960; Illegal Gambling first introduced into the State Code of Law.

1987; Virginia State Lottery begins with proceeds diverted to the State Education System from the year 2000 onwards.

1994; Charitable Gambling Laws enacted as the practice becomes legal in Virginia.

2011; Online gambling made illegal in Virginia with Bills H1584, HB 1700, and S 1195 passing the Virginian State Legislature.

2012; Bill to introduce historic racing in Virginia fails.

2014; State Legislators in Virginia introduced unsuccessful bill SB 19 to legalize casino gambling.

2014; Virginia’s sole Horse Racing track closes.

2016; By passing the State’s Fantasy Contests Act into law, DFS is legalized in Virginia.

2017; Senate Bill 1400 (attempting to have Poker recognized as a game of skill, and therefore not considered gambling) fails to pass the State Legislature.

Click Here to read more about Virginia’s legal online sportsbooks as well as the sports betting laws in Virginia