Online Gambling in Virginia

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The general state of online gambling in Virginia has been one with lots of gray areas in the legislation directly affecting gambling online. The laws are not as restrictive as those obtained in the states of Utah and Hawaii, neither is it liberating like the gambling laws of Nevada. This middle effect has caused a lukewarm growth of the online gambling industry in the Old Dominion state. 

As a result of the legislation, some activities are legal, others illegal, and a few settled in the gray area of the state law. 

  • Online Casino Gambling - Illegal
  • Horse Racing Betting - Legal but OTB
  • Lottery - legal
  • Social Gambling - Legal
  • Online Poker - Illegal
  • Dog Racing Betting - Legal but OTB
  • Daily Fantasy Sports - Legal
  • Charitable Gaming - Legal
  • Sports betting -Legal

Gambling Laws in Virginia

All laws proposed for the gambling industry are raised as a means of revenue generation for the state. Lotteries, casinos, Fantasy, Sports betting as well as other games are affected and regulated for this effect. State laws are concerned with the definition of which gambling activities are legal or illegal, and the regulation of the legal games.

Generally, the gambling laws of Virginia frowns on casino and greyhound racing activities and specifically ban both but allow Off-track Betting (OTB) and horse racing at licensed outfits only. The law also allows for charitable gambling which focuses on some games including duck racing, raffles, and even bingo that are sponsored and managed by Nonprofit organizations. This also extends to games betting including casino games conducted privately at private residences only. Any game that is won by fraud is considered illegal.

Additionally, the law recognizes and even sponsors a state-owned lottery featuring many lottery games like Pick 3, Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick 4, and scratchcards. The revenue in form of tax generated from these events is directed into the improvement of public education especially K-12 in state-owned schools.

All forms of gambling on online casino sites are illegal, however, the law does not state if residents are banned from playing at sites not regulated by the state’s gambling regulatory body.

Casino Games- Grey

All forms of casino gambling except in a social setting are banned in Virginia. The penalties for conducting casino games in Virginia are contained in section 18.2-328  of the Virginia Code which states:

“The operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity, or operation shall be guilty of a class 6 felony. Any such operator who operates for a period above thirty days or amasses a gross revenue of $2,000 or more in one day shall be fined not more than $20,000 and imprisoned not less than one year nor more than ten years.”

For cases where an operator owns and operates a slot machine or any other tool related to casino gambling, the penalty is encoded in section 18.2-331 of the Virginia code.

“A person is guilty of illegal possession of a gambling device when he manufactures, sells, transports, rents, gives away, places or possess, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of any gambling device, believing or having reason to believe that the same is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity. Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a class 1 misdemeanor.”

In March 2019, a new law legalizing casinos was passed by the state general assembly and signed into law by the governor. This law approved the establishment of land-based casinos in Bristol, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Danville. Section 58.1-4100 of the Virginia code is the base legislation:

“...baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, dice, slot machines, sports betting, roulette wheels, klondike tables, punchboards, faro layouts, keno layouts, numbers tickers, push cards, jar tickets, pull tabs, and any other activity that is authorized by the board as a wagering game or device under chapter 41.”

Sports and Race Betting: Legal

Many race betting games are legal in the Old Dominion state. This includes Horse and dog racing, with pari-mutuel wagering. The section which covers these games allows for off-track betting (OTB) at designated track facilities located all over the state, and also terminals at some restaurants.

Section 18.2-133 of the Virginia code covers all sports games betting:

“Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent any contest of speed or skill between men, animals fowl or vehicles, where participants may recipe prizes or different percentages of a purse, stake or premium dependent upon whether they win or lose or dependent upon their position or score at the end of such contest.”

On pari-mutuel wagering, section 18.2-334.4 of the Virginia code states thus:

“Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in any race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering conducted in accordance with chapter 29 (59.1-364) of Title 59.1.”

Asides from the allowed openings of betting on racing games, any other form of betting including office bets, is considered illegal according to 18.2-326:

“If any person makes, places, or recipes any bet or wager of money or any other thing of value on a horse race in the Commonwealth, whether the race is inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth at any place or through any means other than (i) at a racetrack licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission according to chapter 29 of Title 59.1 or (ii) at a satellite facility or through advance deposit account wagering, as those terms are defined in 59.1-365, licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission according to chapter 29 of Title 591, such person shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.”

Lottery: Legal

The state of Virginia has and operates a regulated lottery program. Section 58.1-4000 states the games offered; multiple forms of draw games, scratchers, promotional games, and Print ‘n play games. All proceeds from these games are used to fund the state educational system, especially for the construction and renovation of school blocks, as well as the teachers’ retirement fund. Scratcher games are priced between $1 to $30. 

A part of the law enabling the state lottery gives the state power to claim lottery wins from parents who owe child support. Lottery cash prizes up to $600 can be intercepted and used to pay for overdue child support.

 Additionally, the law requires all lottery tickets printed to contain numbers for counseling on addictive gambling. 

Gambling on social status: Legal

All types of gambling for private purposes and conducted at private residences are recognized by the state of Virginia. This also includes casino games played with the rule that the house does not receive a cut from the winnings.

This is contained in section 18.2-334 of the Virginia code:

“Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in a game of chance conducted in a private residence, provided such private residence is not commonly used for such games of chance and there is no operator as defined in subsection 4 of 18.2-325.”

Charitable Gambling (Bingo): Legal

Gambling activities conducted by non-profit organizations are recognized by the state’s gambling laws. However, this is restricted to a limited number of organizations including fire departments.

Section 18.2-340.15 of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions describes charitable gambling as:

“Charitable gaming as authorized herein shall be permitted in the Commonwealth as a means of funding qualified organizations but shall be conducted only in strict compliance with the provisions of this article. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is vested with control of all charitable gaming in the commonwealth. The Charitable Gaming Board shall have the power to prescribe regulations and conditions under which such gaming shall be conducted to ensure that it is conducted in a manner consistent with the purpose for which it is permitted.”

The Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions of the Virginia Code (section 18.2-340.22) lists the number of games allowed for these organizations:

“This article permits qualified organizations to conduct raffles, bingo, and instant bingo games. All games not explicitly authorized by this article or board regulations adopted following section 18.2-340.18 are prohibited.”

According to the provision, bingo permits restrict gameplay of bingo to two to four days a week. However, special permits can be issued to extend the number of days.

Additionally, a separate entity of the provision makes a stand on the maximum amount to be won during a game to “a maximum of $50 for a single door prize or $250 in cumulative door prizes in any one session. A regular or special bingo game will be restricted to $100 maximum prize money. An instant bingo, pull tab, or sell card prize is capped at $599 for a single card, while the jackpot round shall not exceed $1,000.”

The amounts stated are in the general format, but exceptions can be given upon application for approval.

History of the Virginia Gambling Laws

The gambling laws were first enacted in 1973 with some forms of the Charitable Gambling Provisions legalized for the residents. In 1987, the state lottery program was formalized and legalized, with the program offering live games in 1988. 

The pari-mutuel betting laws were re-enacted in 1989 with the formation of the Virginia Racing Commission to regulate the activities of pari-mutuel betting. 

The OTB facilities were handed over to the VRC for regulation in 2003. Sports betting suffered a setback in 2016 with the closing down of the Colonial Downs, the last operating racetrack in Virginia but was opened in 2019 after lawmakers vetted and approved its opening, making racetracks legal. The same year also saw the legalization of land-based casinos only.

The Virginia Lottery Board

The Virginia Lottery is the body responsible for the implementation of the legislation regarding gambling in Virginia. It was formed in 1989 initially to operate the state’s lottery but became more tasked with more responsibilities later. All members of the board are personally appointed by the office of the governor. 


  • Regulation of land-based casinos and internet sports betting
  • Licensing of operators 
  • Compliance, auditing of the operators, employees, manufacturers, and suppliers of sports gambling equipment.
  • Investment of revenue generated from the gambling industry into the public education system

The board of the Virginia lottery holds public hearings regularly to adopt regulations especially on the establishment and operation of land-based casinos and also hears appeals on denials, revocation, or suspension of licenses of operators. They also submit recommendations to the state governor for approval. 

Offshore Gambling Sites

Most offshore gambling sites are illegal. They easily lure in huge traffic of online gamers with unimaginable bonuses and promotions, game collections, and some other non-existent features. However, when players sign up, they find out that these features are just in the descriptions and not real. recommends choosing legal state gambling sites to every resident in Virginia. Legal sites offer reasonable bonuses and promos, real games, customer protection, and lots more. Users have a responsive customer support system if they need assistance. In addition, legal gambling sites are regulated by the state’s department. They ensure these sites stick to the code of conduct of gambling activities.

Illegal offshore sites are unregulated. There is no telling how much damage this could mean for a user. Also, they are not within the jurisdiction of the gaming division. Technically, the Virginia Lottery Board cannot bring them to book.

We recommend you stick to the domestic legal sites recognized by Virginia, where you’re sure of being assisted if you ever have any issue with the site and its operators.

Legal Online Bingo in Virginia

VA players looking to enjoy bingo games will have to go the extra mile to enjoy this gaming activity. The law of Virginia allows for only domestic, offline bingo games organized by charitable organizations with a limited buy-in at the land-based casinos. Online bingo games can be played at offline bingo sites. The state of Virginia does not have any legislation for the licensing of online bingo games. 

So is online bingo legal in Virginia (VA)? Yes, it is but not allowed domestically. Bills HB 1584, HB 1700, SB 1195 specifically bans all domestic operated online gambling in 2011, and it may be a while before it is reversed. 

This does not extend to offshore sites that are technically recognized by the state and U.S federal government since there are no laws banning legal offshore sites. Please remember to do intensive research before you play at an offshore site. 

Online Poker in Virginia

For many years, the state of Virginia has had a firm stance on the presence of online poker in Virginia. Up till 2019, online Poker was firmly illegal in VA, but with the legalization of online sports betting and the approval for the establishment of four land-based casinos, there is hope that this stance will be reversed in the future. 

For players of online Poker, section 18.2-325 of the Virginia code specifically bans games with an “uncertain or matter of chance”. Players and operators who are involved risk facing serious sanctions including jail time if caught in an online poker room. 

To enjoy online poker, players can use sweepstakes poker rooms, which are legal because they do not require real money to play. All sweepstakes poker sites have virtual coins you can use to play games. 

Daily Fantasy Sports in Virginia

Virginia was the first state to legalize online Daily Fantasy sports (DFS) and now, other states are beginning to copy them. Part of the legislation required operators to submit to two independent audits per year, ensure their players are over 18 years, pay $50,000 as licensing fees, and ban its employees from participating. All these are part of the Fantasy Contests Act of the Virginia code. 

Some of the popular operators operating online DFS in Virginia include:

  • FanDuel;
  • DraftKings;
  • Yahoo;
  • Fantasy Draft.

Lovers of Daily Fantasy games can place bets for the top league games including Online Daily Fantasy MLS, Online Daily Fantasy NHL, Online Daily Fantasy MLB, and Online Daily Fantasy NFL.

Online Lottery in Virginia

Virginia has had a state-run lottery in operation since 1987 and recently took the operations online. It is among the few states in the U.S that have an online lottery, totally legalized. Residents can pay for tickets at a recognized retailer or online, and play on the official website or through the mobile app available for both iOS and Android. 

Part of the rules of playing the online lottery in Virginia includes that all players must be 18 or more.  Players can enjoy a variety of games including Cash4Life Powerball, US Powerball, and Mega Millions. It is regulated by the Virginia Lottery Board. 

Online Horse Racing in Lottery

Horse race betting is legal in the state of Virginia. Residents can enjoy the elegance and serenity of placing bets on their favorite ponies online without fear. The legal tussle for this game has been on till it was laid to rest in 2019. Currently, there is only one offline horse racing track in Virginia - Colonial Downs.

Together with the Colonial Downs facility, players can place bets on virtual races at off-track betting (OTB) locations including Breakers Sports Grille, Henrico, The Windmill OTB Sports Grill, Collinsville, Buckets Bar and Grill, Chesapeake, and Ponies and Pints, Richmond.

Players must be 18 and above to participate and bets cost $2 or more. Some of the operators available in Virginia include:

  • TwinSpires, and 
  • TVG.

Legal Online Sportsbooks in Virginia

Online sports betting is legal in Virginia and has been in operation since January 2021. All major sports relatively legal in the U.S sports betting markets are allowed. Exceptions are for college sports. Placing bets on college sports and the students' props is illegal as there is no live betting feature available. 

With its rising population of 8 million, it is expected that at least four sports betting operators will expand into the Old Dominion state with a minimum of four, each of them partnering with the four land-based casinos already approved by voters. 

The legislation pegs the operation fees at $250,000 for three years, with a favorable tax rate of 15%. Some of the sports betting operators already available include:

  • DraftKings sportsbooks Virginia;
  • BetMGM sportsbooks Virginia;
  • FanDuel sportsbook Virginia;
  • Unibet Sportsbook Virginia;
  • PointsBet Sportsbook Virginia; and 
  • BetRiers sportsbook Virginia.

Legal Online Casinos in Virginia

As online sports betting is legal in Virginia, the question on many people's minds is if real money online casinos are available in VA. The answer to this is No, there are no online casinos available in Virginia and might not be for a long time. 

Even though there has been recent legislation authorizing land-based casinos in VA, the buildings are yet to be constructed and there are still issues surrounding the license for the approved cities including Portsmouth, Norfolk, Bristol, Danville, and no state has legalized online casinos without a partnership with a brick-and-mortar casino. 

If you’re still seeking ways to play casinos online in Virginia within the purview of federal law, you can play with the option of Sweepstakes gaming. 

A sweepstakes gaming is authorized by federal gambling law and operates nationally. It is free to enter and must give the price advertised with no bonus attached. Sweepstakes casinos are allowed in Virginia and use a dual-currency system to clear the issue of transaction requirements to play. 

Some of the online casinos currently legal in Virginia through the sweepstakes concept include:

  • Chumba casino;
  • Luckyland casino.