Gamblers Guide to Virginia

Virginia gambling laws are strict about some types of gambling, but lax about
others. For example, casinos are outlawed, but casino games in a social gaming
setting are legal.

This page covers everything you need to know about Virginia gambling sites,
laws, and regulations.

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Online Gambling and Virginia Law

Is Online Gambling Legal in Virginia?

Virginia doesn’t have any specific internet gambling laws, but their existing
laws cover online gambling. Nothing in the Virginia legal code makes any
specific distinction between online and land-based gambling.

According to section 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code, gambling devices are
defined as:

“a. Any device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other thing, including
books, records and other papers, which are actually used in an illegal gambling
operation or activity, and

b. Any machine, apparatus, implement, instrument, contrivance, board or other
thing, or electronic or video versions thereof, including but not limited to
those dependent upon the insertion of a coin or other object for their

Gambling devices include electronics. A computer can be counted as a gambling
device, which are illegal in Virginia.

Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Virginia?

You could get arrested for gambling online in Virginia, but no one has as of

If you’re charged with illegal gambling, section 18.2-326 of the Virginia
Code states the penalty for illegal gambling as follows:

“Except as otherwise provided in this article, any person who illegally
gambles or engages in interstate gambling as defined in § 18.2-325 shall be
guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. If an association or pool of persons illegally
gamble, each person therein shall be guilty of illegal gambling.”

Virginia law enforcement is focused on stopping illegal casinos and poker
rooms throughout the state, not online gamblers. This isn’t unusual in the
United States. Most law enforcement working in vice categories like this focus
their enforcement activity on providers rather than customers.

Is Virginia Going to Legalize Online Gaming?

It’s hard to say if Virginia is going to legalize online gaming. The state
has outlawed casinos; however, it uses the internet for the lottery. A print and
play option is available on the Virginia Lottery website for lottery, bingo,
blackjack, and crossword games.

If Virginia continues their trend of legalizing online forms of gaming,
websites for legal, regulated gambling could be available soon.

How Do I Choose a Good Online Gaming Site?

If you’re not willing to wait for legalization, plenty of offshore gambling
companies in foreign jurisdictions are willing to take your action. Be aware
that patronizing these businesses might be technically illegal, although the
risk of arrest and prosecution is minimal. (We’ve never seen
reports of anyone being arrested for playing at an online casino.)

Our advice, of course, is to obey the law in Virginia – or anywhere else. That
doesn’t mean we’re naïve. We know that some of our readers make decisions about
certain legalities related to their risk level, and playing online casino games
for money presents little risk.

Here are some things you should do before signing up at an offshore betting
site, though:

  • Read Reviews –

    Search for reviews from past and present users about the site
    you’re considering. Reading the reviews gives you a good idea of the advantages
    and disadvantages of the site from the
    member’s point of view.

    Keep in mind that not all reviews on the internet are legitimate reviews from
    real players. Many reviews are just sales letters or advertisements labeled as
    reviews. Look for reviews that seem to be written from the first-person point of
    view. Also look for reviews that offer insights into both the pros and the cons
    of a specific site.

    We offer thorough, honest reviews on our site.

  • Check Deposit Options –

    Research what deposit options the site offers to see
    if they accept what you use or something you’re comfortable using. Being able to
    get money to and from the site easily is essential to having fun at a gambling

  • Game Variety –

    Make sure the site you’re considering has your favorite games
    and ones that you might want to try. Having a good variety of games keeps you
    entertained. It’s silly to sign up at an online casino that only offers slot
    machines if you want to play live dealer blackjack, for example.

Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?

Offshore gambling sites are safe if you know how to look for legitimate ones.

Before choosing an offshore gambling site, research their licensing and how
long they’ve been in business. By researching those two things you can find out
restrictions and fees involved with the site. You can also determine if they
have a stream of loyal customers.

Gambling at an offshore site will never offer the same level of safety and
protection you’d have at a casino in Las Vegas. If you have a dispute with a
business in a foreign country, the hoops you’d have to jump through to take any
kind of legal action are ridiculous and expensive.

For this reason – any many others – we suggest only gambling with money you can
afford to lose.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia was the first state to legalize daily fantasy sports. Residents
must be 18 or older to play.

Daily fantasy sports sites must pay a $50,000 one-time fee to Virginia to
legally operate in the state.

Also On This Page

More Gambling Laws in Virginia

  • Casino Games (Illegal)
  • Sports Betting (Legal)
  • Race Betting (Legal)
  • Lottery (Legal)
  • Bingo (Charitable Gaming Only)
  • Social Gambling (Legal)

According to section 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code, illegal gambling is
defined as:

“the making, placing or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of
money or other thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize,
stake or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any
game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter
of chance, whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or
outside the limits of the Commonwealth.”

Casino Games: Illegal

No casinos, tribal or otherwise, are legal in Virginia.

The penalties for conducting illegal gambling operations according to section
18.2-328 of the Virginia Code are the following:

“The operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation shall
be guilty of a Class 6 felony. However, any such operator who engages in an
illegal gambling operation which (i) has been or remains in substantially
continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or (ii) has gross
revenue of $2,000 or more in any single day shall be fined not more than $20,000
and imprisoned not less than one year nor more than ten years.”

Owning a slot machine or other devices for gambling is illegal in Virginia.
Here’s the penalty for illegal possession of a gambling device according to
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 possesses, 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

Sports and Race Betting: Legal

Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering is legal in Virginia. You can bet on
and off track in Virginia, with authorized betting terminals located throughout
the state–including terminals in restaurants.

Here’s what section 18.2-133 of the Virginia Code says about sporting events:

“Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent any contest of speed
or skill between men, animals, fowl or vehicles, where participants may receive
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.”

Here’s what section 18.2-334.4 of the Virginia Code says about pari-mutuel

“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 et seq.) of Title 59.1.”

Betting on a horse race in an unauthorized fashion, such as an office bet, is
illegal in Virginia.

Here’s what section 18.2-326 of the Virginia Code says about the penalty of
betting on horse races outside of authorized options:

“if any person makes, places, or receives any bet or wager of money or 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
pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) 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 pursuant to Chapter 29
(§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1

Greyhound racing is illegal in Virginia.

Lottery: Legal

Virginia has a state-regulated lottery. The proceeds from the lottery go
toward public education.

Here’s what the Virginia Lottery website says:

“Since 1988, the Virginia Lottery has been producing fun and exciting games
for Virginians to enjoy. When players have fun, the Lottery has fun! With every
game purchase, sales increase, and more profits can be turned over to the
Commonwealth. And since 1999, 100% of the Lottery’s profits support Virginia
public education, K-12.”

The Virginia Lottery offers multiple games including draw games, scratchers,
print ‘n play, and promotional games. Scratcher prices range from $1 to $30.

Bingo: Charitable Gaming Only

Charitable gaming is legal in Virginia. Only certain organizations are
permitted to run charitable games. These include charitable organizations and
fire departments.

Here are the games that section 18.2-340.22 of the Virginia Charitable Gaming

“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 in accordance with § 18.2-340.18 are prohibited.”

Here’s what section 18.2-340.15 of the Virginia Charitable Gaming Provisions
says about charitable gaming:

“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.”

In general, bingo permits only allow bingo games to be played two to four
days a week, but special permits can be granted to allow play every day of the

The maximum bingo prize money or merchandise defined by the Virginia
Charitable Gaming Provisions is the following:

“9. No organization shall award any bingo prize money or any merchandise
valued in excess of the following amounts: a. No bingo door prize shall
exceed $50 for a single door prize or $250 in cumulative door prizes in any one
session; b. No regular bingo or special bingo game prize shall exceed
$100; c. No instant bingo, pull tab, or seal card prize for a single card
shall exceed $599; and d. No bingo jackpot of any nature whatsoever shall exceed
$1,000, nor shall the total amount of bingo jackpot prizes awarded in any one
session exceed $1,000. Proceeds from the sale of bingo cards and the sheets used
for bingo jackpot games shall be accounted for separately from the bingo cards
or sheets used for any other bingo games.”

The maximum amounts listed above are the general amounts, and some exceptions
can be made on approval.

Social Gambling: Legal

Social gambling in private residences is legal in Virginia. Virginia
residents can play casino games in their home as long as the house doesn’t take
a cut of the pot.

Here’s what section 18.2-334 of the Virginia Code says about gambling in
private residences:

“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.”

Gambling Venues in Virginia

No casinos can be found in Virginia, but bingo halls are located throughout
the state.

History of Gambling in Virginia


Charitable gambling laws are decided by the local governments.


Virginia State Lottery is legalized.


The Virginia Racing Commission, or VRC for short, is created to oversee pari-mutuel betting.


A bill attempting to create a riverboat gaming commission is denied by the committee.


Virginia’s only horse track, Colonial Downs, opens.


Off track betting facilities are now overseen by the VRC.


EZ betting terminals come to Virginia


Another bill attempts to legalize riverboat gambling and it fails.

Additional Resources

The Future

Bills to legalize riverboat casinos have been proposed several times, but at
this point they’ve failed each time. The Virginia government seems determined to
keep land-based or boat casinos from coming to their state.

Although Virginia has outlawed casino gambling, it’s been legalizing forms of
online gaming. For example, Virginia legalized daily fantasy sports before any
other state, and the state lottery has utilized the internet for some time.
Based on these facts, Virginia gambling sites with state-regulated games could
be coming in the near future.