Virginia Gambling Laws

Virginia Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Virginia?

Virginia gambling laws are more permissive than many of the southern United States. The Commonwealth of Virginia allows charitable gaming, limited horse racing, and the sale of lottery tickets. For these various gambling fields, the Virginian legislature has divided the power to regulate and administer gambling between the Virginia Department of Charitable Gaming, the Virginia Lottery Board, and the Virginia Racing Commission. I'll discuss each of these agencies in their turn.

Playing Legal Virginia Poker

We need to first establish whether or not poker is defined as gambling under Virginia law. Let's start with Section 18 of the Virginia statutes, where the definition of gambling (subsection 2-325.1) requires a bet on an outcome that is either "uncertain" or comes down to a "matter of chance."

In states where the definition is less sweeping - like New Hampshire poker laws - poker players can make a case that poker doesn't meet the state definition of gambling. But in Virginia we've got a pretty clear-cut situation, as poker often involves uncertain outcomes.

With poker qualifying as gambling, the ways in which you can play it for real money are restricted by Virginia state law.

While numerous casinos are located in neighboring states, there are no such businesses in Virginia itself. That means there are also no legal live poker rooms located in Virginia.

Regulations concerning charitable gambling in Virginia are spelled out in Section 18.2-340.15. To save you the time of a thorough review, poker is excluded from the list of approved games that can be offered at a charitable gambling event. So, charitable poker is off the list of ways to legally play poker for real money in Virginia.

Better luck for poker players on the social gambling score. Virginia law contains a clear and strongly worded exception for those taking part "game of chance conducted in a private residence." You can review the complete wording of the exception at Section 18-2-334. The basics: If you're all equal participants, as is the case with poker, and no one is running the game as a business, such gambling is completely in compliance with Virginia gambling law - no matter how high the stakes rise.

Virginia Racing Commission

The Virginia Racing Commission regulates parimutuel gambling and horse races at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Virginia. Colonial Downs is home to the annual Virginia Derby, along with a 32 day live thoroughbred racing schedule in June and July every year. Events include the Strawberry Hill Races, the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup, the $600,000 Virginia Derby, and the $250,000 Commonwealth Turf Festival. In September and October, Harness meet is held for lovers of harness racing which takes place on 24 dates in a 6 week period. The fall harness schedule culminates with the annual $300,000 Virginia Harness "Day of Champions". This day showcases 2 year old and 3 year old pacers and trotters in eight different divisional races. The Day of Champions is held in conjunction with the New Kent County Fair.

Though Virginia doesn't have many horse tracks, the state laws allow its citizens an extraordinary amount of access to off-track betting opportunities through OTB facilities and betting terminals.

Legal Off Track Betting Locations in Virginia

Colonial Downs is the only permanent race track in Virginia, but the Colonial Downs off track betting is spread around the state at what are called Off Track Betting Centers, OTBs, or Satellite Wagering Facility locations.

These OTB locations are Major Willy's in downtown Richmond, one location in Alberta off I-85, two locations at Hampton Roads, and locations in the southwestern portions of Virginia in Scott County, Vinton County, and Martinsville County.

OTB Betting Terminals in Virginia

Beyond the OTB set-ups, Virginians can visit "EZ Kiosk" locations around the state where people can set up EZ betting accounts, make a deposit, collect winnings through withdrawals, and make bets on off-track races. The EZ Kiosk is a betting terminal maintained by the people at EZ Horseplay. The terminals are found in dozens of bars and clubs across Virginia.

Many of the terminals are found in Moose Lodges, Elk Lodges, and VFW facilities. Other terminals are found in sports lounges, restaurants, pizzerias, and bars. Cities you can find them in include Abingdon, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Charlottesville, Dale City, Glen Allen, New Kent, Richmond, Hampton, Chesapeake, Midlothian, Hopewell, Petersburg, Alexandria, Newport News, Waynesboro, Danville, Chester, Coles Point, Sterling, Falls Point, Hayes, Poquoson, Lynchburg, Carrollton, Manassas, Roanoke, Radford, Warsaw, Gloucester, Amelia Court Hourse, Fairfax, Woodbridge, Fisherville, Springfield, South Arlington, Nokesville, Woodstock, Berryville, Annandale, Salem, Parksley, Onancock, Front Royal, Lexington, Occoquan, Williamsburg, and Virginia Beach.

Virginia Charitable Gaming Board

The charitable gaming industry is regulated a little differently in the Commonwealth, too. Most states have a 5-member commission of political appointees who oversee charitable gambling operations. In Virginia, a 5 member panel of these people exist, but Virginia wants to hear from those being regulated, so they expanded the organization to include 4 more individuals. One panel member is an owner or leaser of a facility where charitable gaming takes place. Another is a law enforcement professional with no connection to anyone else on the board. Still another represents a charitable gaming supplier who sits in good standing with Virginia regulators. The final member of the panel is a member of a charitable gaming organization.

Learn About Other State Laws

The laws enforced by the Virginia Charitable Gaming Board are stipulated mainly in Chapter 8 of Title 18.2 of the Virginia Commonwealth's Code.

Virginia Commonwealth Lottery Board

A Virginia Lottery Board also exists. Lotto games available in Virginia include Pick 3, Pick 4, Cash 5, Win 7 for Life, and Decades of Dollars. Both the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets are sold in Virginia. Also, scratch-off cards, known locally as "scratchers", are also available at most lottery vending locations.

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