Virginia is in a state of change! What was once a hard nosed strictly no gambling state, is no longer. Slot like gambling machines are popping up throughout the state like sun flowers.
A quick overview of Virginia gaming:
- There are, no state regulated online onshore casino operators. Offshore online casino operators accept players from Virginia because they are not prohibited by the State Law.
- The State lottery, pari-mutuel wagering and charitable and social gambling is explicitly permitted according to the Virginia Statutory Code.
- The State authorizes online horse race betting through Colonial Downs horse race track facility.
- The minimum gambling age is 18 for lottery products, 21 for offshore online casinos and pari-mutuel betting.
- Lottery products are regulated by the Virginia State Lottery
- There are no licenses are awarded for land-based or tribal casinos.
Virginia resides along the eastern coast of the US. It borders progressive gambling states such as West Virginia and Tennessee, but Virginia is the opposite. Relatively conservative, there are very little gambling options that are currently available in this state.
But change is afoot, with slot-like machines now legal to be operated by regulated franchisees. Theses machines use the past horse historical race data to determine random outcomes, rather than pure random number generators. Currently there are over 3,000 machines franchised across the state.
Complimenting the horse racing theme, Virginia allows horse racing and off track betting. Virginia does not allow any other forms of gambling besides horse racing and off track betting.
Further change is possible with several commercial and tribal groups pushing for casino licenses and approval to build. Tribal groups are navigating through the Federal tier of government to expand their gambling offerings, whilst commercial organisation are seeking consent from the General Assembly at a State level.
Gambling is generally defined as betting on the outcome of any game or contest that is dependent on chance.
In summary, Virginia gambling laws permit charitable games, state lottery and horse racing. Offshore online casinos is also an option
Virginia Online Gambling
Online gambling in Virginia is generally considered as illegal. That is, the actual law does not make reference to online gambling as being illegal or legal. And therefore with the same application of rules per states that also do not make reference to online gambling, it is generally accepted that gambling online is illegal. But, having said that, offshore online casinos continue and openly accept US Players. Online gambling laws are infact in a grey area of the law and could be considered as legal.
Therefore as long as the online casino or sports book is based outside of Virginia, players from Virginia can play.
Game offerings include: blackjack, roulette, baccarat can be played online.
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Unfortunately there are no Virginia casinos to review. All casinos, both tribal and commercial are banned from operating in the state. The state laws are quite explicit in this regard, and hence there is extensive lobbying by many pro gambling organizations to legalize, as the gambling law tide turns in other US states.
Horse Race tracks
Horse racing, just like other US States was running at a loss in Virginia. With a change in demographics, competition from other forms of entertainment, horse racing is a capital intensive industry and without re-financing, would remain in the red.
Accordingly the General Assembly of Virginia permitted the operating of “horse” slot machines to revitalize the industry. First to operate these slot machines was Colonial Downs Racetrack.
Colonial Downs Racetrack
Suffering from financial ruin, Colonial Downs shut down live horse racing in October 2014. But after renovations, reinvestment with financial support from state funding, and the approval to operate “horse” slot machines, the Colonial Downs returned to live racing. In September 2019, The Virginia Derby was held, reporting a turn over from slot machines of over $71 million for the month.
This is an impressive turn around for the horse racing industry and for Colonial Downs.
Reviews from patrons appreciate the ability to play on slot machines, the new reinvigorated race track and stands, and other entertainment.
There is a state lottery that participates in the Mega Millions and Powerball interstate lottery. With the new slot machines being approved to be operated at horse racing tracks, there was concern that lottery sales would dip. The concerns of gaming officials, were that proceeds from the lottery would simply transfer to slot machines, effectively cannibalizing revenue streams. However, this has not eventuated and sales continue to be strong which is extremely positive. Funds from the State Lottery are directed to education infrastructure and other public works.
It appears that Virginia is the only state that has been able to find a sustainable solution to support their horse racing industry without impacting other gambling avenues.
Charitable gambling in the State law has been defined to include bingo and raffle run by non profit organizations.
Unlike many other US States, slot machines are permitted to be owned by individual irrespective of the date of manufacture. Therefore, technically, you could immediately buy a slot machine that is brand new in the state of Virginia. The law, however, does not allow the use of the slot machine for unlawful gambling activities.
Virginia gambling laws describes placing a bet as one of luck not of skill. How games are therefore defined, would infer that gambling games are all of luck. Several pro DFS organizations have therefore attempted to argue that DFS is a game of skill rather than one of luck. However, this reasoning was struck down and DFS has been ruled as illegal.
The minimum age for gambling in Virginia is 18 for lottery products, whilst 21 for offshore online interactive gaming.
In the past there have been attempts to legalize Riverboat gambling. But this too has also failed to be approved, as with many other forms of gambling.
Horse racing remains embedded in this states history, and is the only form of gambling that is allowed and supported to succeed as an industry.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to gamble on in Virginia. Yes, there are horse racing and pari-mutuel bets allowed, the new “horse” slot machines, but that’s pretty much it. Proposed liberalization of other forms of gambling such as sports betting and DFS have been rejected. There is little chance of change in the immediate future regarding gambling laws.
A Lawyer’s Opinion
Virginia is a friendly state for online gamblers though few land-based opportunities exist. No casinos are permitted within the state though many online options are permitted. See Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-325 et seq.; Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-364 et seq.
Sports Betting: Online betting on fantasy sports is legal in Virginia, permitting FanDuel, DraftKings and others to operate within the state so long as they follow the regulations on operation. General sportsbook making, however, remains prohibited. Individuals who wish to make online sportsbooks, thus, must do so through platforms operating outside of the state.
Race Betting: No land-based race betting opportunities exist in the state of Virginia. However, online betting is permitted if the wager is made through a licensed domestic platform, including TGV and Twinspire.
Online Gambling: Online gambling, including participation in poker rooms, is not permitted in the state of Virginia. Thus, individuals wishing to participate in online gambling, including poker and other such games of skill, must place bets online through platforms operating outside of the state.
Online Gaming: Bona fide contests of skill are permitted with social gaming being permitted through sites such as WorldWinner.
The information in this multi-state research is made available by a licensed, U.S. attorney, and is for informational purposes only. We make no representations that the information is complete or correct in its entirety. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between us. This brief should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed gambling and entertainment lawyer in your state.