Virginia Gambling Laws and Online Poker Sites
Virginia has the average outlook on unregulated gambling as most other states; they are fairly strict with a broad gambling definition. They are also deal out harsh punishments when it comes to illegal gambling.
§ 18.2-325. Definitions.
1. “Illegal gambling” means the making, placing or receipt, of any bet or wager in this 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 this Commonwealth.
Virginia seems to use a Material Degree test, where they determine which games are games of chance. Based on this test they would make their ruling, however, most games that even have a small amount of chance will be deemed as a game of chance. Charges for illegal gambling range from class 3 misdemeanor up to a felony; misdemeanors are usually reserved for the players while the felony charge is for those operating the illegal gambling business.
Gambling Allowed in Virginia
Virginia may be strict when it comes to unregulated gambling, but they do have several ways for their residents to gamble without worrying about breaking the law. Virginia does allow pari-mutuel gambling on horse racing, which is regulated by the Virginia Racing Commission. They also have a lottery and have some forms of charitable gambling, where they can play bingo and have raffles.
Virginia is also a great place for those that want to socially gamble (meaning playing and betting at social events, their homes, and with friends and others).
§ 18.2-334. Exception to article; 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.
They do have an exception in their laws, making it legal for people to gamble socially, as long as they follow the rules; this is great for poker players.
Virginia Online Poker Law
There are no laws or an instance in Virginia’s gambling law that specifically deals with online gambling. However, just because it has not been determined to be illegal, this does not mean that it is legal. Virginia could even debate the fact that playing poker online violates their social gambling exception, as most online poker sites take a fee or rake, acting as operators based on subsection 4 of § 18.2-325. There has not been any news on the State going after the online poker players, as they are more interested in the operators.
Land Based Casinos and Tribal Stances
Virginia does not have any forms of commercial or tribal casinos in the State. What they do allow are racetracks and betting on horse races. These racetracks are not allowed to have any forms of casino-style games, so players would not be able to find any way of playing poker; unless they do it socially, while following the rules. In November 2014, Virginia’s only racetrack, Colonial Downs, closed its doors for good.
State Regulated Online Poker
Estimated Date of Legalized Online Poker in Virginia: 2018-2019
Virginia does not seem like a good State for regulating online poker sites. They do not seem interested in pursuing any form of legislation regarding online gambling. It does not help that they lack any formal commercial or tribal casinos; these entities could help encourage regulation efforts. The State residents do not seem interested in expanding gambling at least land-based, so they might be more interested when it comes to an online solution.
The Virginia State Lottery was established in 1987, and is run by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Only residents 18 or older are allowed to play. Virginia does not allow the sale of the lottery over the internet, so they only allow tickets to be sold through authorized retailers.
Virginia Online Poker Sites
Virginia’s take on online poker is quite vague, as they do not have anything explicitly stating that it is illegal. Their gambling definitions could translate into the online realm, but they would be hard pressed to try and prosecute any of the individual players. Virginia poker players wanting to participate in some great poker websites should try out, BetOnline and Ignition, which are top rated poker sites.