Virginia Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

Virginia is recognized as one of the states with stricter gambling laws. According to the Virginia Code, most common forms of gambling, including casino gambling, are prohibited. The only exceptions to this law are lottery games, charitable gaming, and pari-mutuel horse race betting. Other than these, all other gambling activities are considered illegal in Virginia. The permitted forms of gambling are tightly controlled and are the only legally approved gambling activities in the state.

In this article, we are going to deal with these gambling regulations and laws that apply, as well as discuss some available options for gamblers from Virginia.

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Gambling Laws in Virginia — The Law Overview

Gambling in Virginia is described explicitly in chapter 8 of the 12th title of Virginia Code as “making, placing, or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of money or other consideration or 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.”

All who engage in the aforementioned activities will be guilty of illegal gambling, which is a charge classified as Class III Misdemeanor punishable with a fine up to $500. Also, all gambling-related contracts or duties are seen as “utterly void” in chapter 3, title 11 of the Virginia Code, and without any legal obligation to the parties involved.

On the other hand, lottery, as one of the few forms of gambling allowed, is regulated under the Virginia Lottery Law specified under chapter 40, title 58.1 of the Virginia Code. The law was enacted in 1987 when the Virginia State Lottery started selling lottery tickets for both state and interstate lotteries, scratch cards, and Print ‘n Play Games. All proceeds from the lottery go to Virginia’s K-12 public schools.

Charitable gaming falls under the jurisdiction of the Charitable Gaming Board which has the power to regulate it and oversee its development, as defined under the code 18.2-340.15 of the Virginia Code, making it the second legal form of gambling in Virginia.

Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is permitted throughout Virginia. The Virginia Racing Commission is vested with all the powers of regulating and controlling betting on horse races under chapter 29, dubbed the “Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering Code”.

The minimum age required for participation in legal forms of gambling in Virginia is 18.

Are There Any Forms of Gambling Allowed in Virginia? 

The Virginia Lottery has been in operation for over 30 years and is a gambling institution that generates approximately $1.6 million per day for the state-run K12 public school program. The offer of lottery draws includes the biggest interstate draws like Mega Millions, Powerball, Bank a Million, as well as some local scratch cards like Pick 3, Pick 4, and Cash 5. Other than these, players can indulge in Print ‘n Play games that you play by matching different symbols, which can, if matched well, bring hefty prizes.

Under the rules for charitable gaming, only the games that are charitable, fraternal, religious, and other non-profit groups can conduct raffles, bingo, network bingo, and instant bingo games. Other than these, no other games are permitted. Also, the organizations that want to host these games need to obtain a license from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

As far as pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is concerned, it has seen its ups and downs over its 200-year old history in Virginia. The law allows both on-track and off-track betting on horse racing, and the only licensed racetrack at the moment is Colonial Downs located in New Kent.

Home games are also allowed in Virginia, as these are not seen as gambling, given the fact that no monetary prize can be included, and there is no gain for the “house.”

Is Online Gambling Allowed in Virginia?

The Virginia Code does not specify any restrictions or bans when it comes to online gambling. However, some current limits and definitions of illegal can be seen as applicable to online gaming.

Namely, a gambling device in the Virginia Code is described 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 operation”.

This broad definition can apply to your mobile phones, tablets, PCs, and just about any device you can use to access online casinos, poker rooms, and betting sites.

Under the lottery law, not even the sales of lottery tickets is permitted to take place online/over the web.

However, the aim of the legislators is clearly to impede online casinos and poker rooms from establishing gambling operations in Virginia, and not individual gamblers. No one has ever been persecuted for playing in offshore online casinos that accept players from Virginia.

Where to Gamble in Virginia?

The casino gambling options in Virginia are actually non-existent. To experience casino gambling, players from Virginia need to venture to neighboring Maryland, Delaware, or North Carolina. As mentioned earlier, Colonial Downs is the only licensed and regulated horse racing race track in Virginia, offering flat thoroughbred racing with the best turf track in all of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On the other hand, there are over 600 bingo halls across Virginia so that, if you are up for some bingo games and raffles, you won’t have any problems finding them. Other than these bingo halls, you will find hundreds of lottery retailers for the Virginia state lottery, which pretty much sums the entire gambling offer in Virginia.


What types of gambling are available in Virginia?

In Virginia, players can engage in pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, lottery draws, and charitable gaming.

Is online gambling allowed in Virginia?

Online gambling is not clearly prohibited, but players won’t likely get persecuted for playing in offshore online sites and casinos.

What is the minimum gambling age for allowed forms of gambling?

The minimum gambling age for legal gambling options in Virginia is 18.

Where should players from Virginia go to gamble legally?

Players from Virginia can go to neighboring Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware or North Carolina to gamble legally.

Is there a race track in Virginia?

The only licensed race track in Virginia where you can place pari-mutuel wagers on horse races is Colonial Downs in New Kent County.