Virginia Casinos

Written by: Cliff Spiller, Online Casino and Game Expert
Virginia Casinos & Gambling
  • Bingo (1973), Lottery (1987), Horse racing (1997), Daily Fantasy Sports (2016)
  • $487 million
  • $1.6 billion
  • 18 for all forms
  • Virginia does not ban smoking in establishments that ban minors
  • Horse racing and Daily Fantasy Sports

Virginia gambling leaves its residents with hardly any options to choose from. Even though there are no Virginia casinos, there are services that will transport gamblers to other states. There are only three legalized forms of live gaming available in the state. One no longer operates due to a lack of demand. Despite the fact that there are not Virginia casinos within state borders, there are always other options. Anyone that wants the gambling experience can always rent casino games (with strict rules of how to operate them). They can also go to “party casino” establishments, where all games are just like casino games, without having real money involved. The last way Virginia casino gamblers can have their fun is by actually taking a bus ride to other states. There is always the option to get on a cruise casino and sail out to international waters and gamble. Below you will find a simply map and guide to some of these Virginia casinos alternatives.

Types of Virginia Online Gambling Allowed

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Off-track betting is legal over the Internet and on mobile devices in Virginia. The problem is that there are no tracks to partner with so no sites operate. As of now, online casino gambling is not legal in Virginia.

Daily fantasy sports sites are explicitly legal in Virginia. DraftKings and FanDuel are licensed to operate in the state.

Types of Live Virginia Gambling

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  • Casino Games: No
  • Horses: Yes
  • Lottery: Yes

There are three types of legalized Virginia gambling options. The state lottery may sell scratch-off and lotto tickets. There are thousands of retailers. Charities may offer bingo games. There are nearly 600 bingo halls in the state. Live horse racing is legal in Virginia. There are no active tracks. Colonial Downs held its last race in 2014. Its simulcast betting shops shuttered in April 2015.

There is charity bingo, which is a booming business in Virginia due to the lack of other options. There is also a state lottery that sells scratch-off and lotto tickets.

Horse racing is legal but there are no active tracks. Off-track betting is permitted by advance deposit wagering companies if offered over the Internet. Since Colonial Downs shuttered, it cannot offer off-track betting so there is no way to play the ponies in Virginia these days, even though it is legal to do so. This includes betting apps and websites.

Virginia casino gambling is not legal. Players in the west part of the state can go to West Virginia or Cherokee, North Carolina for casino action. Those in the east part of Virginia will probably prefer going to Maryland and Delaware.

Daily fantasy sports contests were legalized in Virginia in March 2016. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are licensed to operate in the state.

Virginia gambling laws

Virginia requires gambler to be at least 18 years of age. Only bingo, a state lottery, horse racing and daily fantasy sports are considered legal in the state. Virginia law exempts any gambling that occurs in a private residence as long as it is not considered a commercial operation. This includes home poker games and casino nights among friends.

Gamblers that enter into a payment agreement cannot enforce it. Losers of money on games that involve an element of chance may recover that cash through legal means.

Most gambling crimes are misdemeanors. An operator of an illegal gambling enterprise that runs for 30 days or has $2,000 in revenue in a single day is a felony.

Daily fantasy sports sites are permitted to operate in the state if they receive a license. Registration costs $50,000 per year. The state must receive an independent auditor’s report annually.

Horse racing is legal in Virginia. There was only ever one licensed track. It failed in 2015. Off-track betting is legal in Virginia. It requires a licensed facility. Mobile betting on horses is also legal but it requires a partnership with a licensed track. There are none so there is nowhere to make these bets legally in Virginia.

Where to Gamble in Virginia

There are about 600 bingo halls in Virginia. There is never a problem finding a game. There are thousands of lottery retailers. These businesses sell instant games and tickets for lotto drawings. Casino players must go to West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware or North Carolina for action.

Virginia Gambling History

Virginia casino history

Horse racing dates back to the colonial days of Virginia. Historians note that races took place at underground operations from the 1500’s all the way until 1897. That is when the state specifically outlawed horse racing. It did not stop the activity in all counties. It simply drove the gaming underground.

The state legislature decided to legalize live and simulcast betting in 1997. This created pari-mutuel pools on races. Colonial Downs opened on September 1, 1997. There were 13,000 fans in attendance. The track ran into financial difficulties in the late 2000’s and started to trim live racing days. In 2013, the last thoroughbred race was held. That type of racing ended due to a dispute with the horsemen.

Harness racing continued at Colonial Downs into 2014. The track relinquished its live racing license in 2014. The off-track betting shop was closed in April 2015. There were OTBs in other parts of the state that shuttered in November 2014. Colonial Downs is likely closed forever. There are plans to develop a gold course on the land.

Bingo was approved through a constitutional amendment in November 1973. The first bingo games were held within months. Voters approved a state lottery in November 1987. The first ticket was sold on September 20, 1988.

Virginia Casinos & Gambling FAQ

Here are the most common questions about gambling in Virginia.

What is the minimum Virginia gambling age?

The minimum Virginia gambling age is 18 for all forms.

Is horse racing legal in Virginia?

Yes, but there are no tracks.

Is off-track betting legal in Virginia?

Yes, but there are no betting shops open. Internet companies are not licensed due to a lack of track partners.

Are daily fantasy sports contests legal in Virginia?

Yes. Virginia is the first state to license daily fantasy sports.

What daily fantasy sports companies operate in Virginia?

DraftKings and FanDuel are the main licensed operators.

Does Virginia have a state lottery?

Yes. It sells scratch-off and lotto tickets.

Is bingo legal in Virginia?

Yes, but only if operated by a registered charity.

Are online poker, casino and sports betting sites legal in Virginia?

No. None of these types of sites are licensed to operate in the state and are illegal.

Where are the closest casinos to Virginia?

Virginia residents in the Appalachian area can choose between casinos in West Virginia and Cherokee, North Carolina. Those closers to Washington D.C. will find Maryland casinos to be closer.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller Online Casino and Game Expert

I've been writing for OUSC about the casino industry for more than 15 years. I love playing games, including poker, Scrabble, and trivia games. I enjoy researching and writing new online casino reviews and sharing game strategies.

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