Virginia, historically, was one of the most gambling-restrictive states in the union. However, the tide is turning nationwide, and even states like Virginia are passing legislation that relaxes some of those anti-gambling attitudes.
For instance, 2020 saw the state’s General Assembly pass a sports betting bill legalizing online sports betting and allowing the construction of up to five brick-and-mortar casino sites. This move represented a huge departure from the previous anti-gambling attitude and a new beginning for online gambling in Virginia.
However, the state still does not allow many forms of online gambling, like online casinos and online poker. Below, we will provide an overview of online gambling in Virginia so you know what you can enjoy and what developments to expect over the next few years.
Online Sports Betting Partnerships In Virginia
At this time, there are no brick-and-mortar casinos operating in Virginia. But recent legislation has allowed five brick-and-mortar casinos to be built in certain cities. Currently, five locations – Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danbury, Bristol, and Richmond – are looking to build retail casinos as early as this year in 2021.
As such, sportsbook operators and other online gambling organizations don’t yet have any brick-and-mortar casinos with which to partner. But there has already been some talk of potential partnerships, which spells out good news for sports betting enthusiasts and casino-goers.
BetRivers (owned by Rush Street Interactive), for example, has already made a deal with a new casino that is soon to be built in Portsmouth. It’ll be the sole sports betting provider for that location. Similarly, Caesars is looking to launch its own mobile sportsbook app through a partnership with a casino development in Danville.
Time will tell exactly what these casinos will offer, but the two sportsbook operators will likely be among the first to offer mobile sports betting in Virginia.
|Sportsbook Operator||Partnered Retail Casino|
|BetRivers||Portsmouth Casino (Unnamed)|
|Caesars||Danville Casino (Unnamed)|
Most likely, each casino will partner with an exclusive sports betting operator. This will allow the number of sports betting venues to grow beyond the theoretical 12 license limit, which only applies to independent operators (not partnered ones).
If sports betting proves to be popular, Virginia’s legislators may increase this limit and allow more sports betting operators to apply for licenses. But in the meantime, players will still have plenty of choices.
Is Online Gambling Legal In Virginia?
Virginia’s has had a restrictive stance toward gambling from the beginning of its statehood. For a long time, the state only allowed social gambling and horse racing. But even the latter was outlawed at one point and then made legal again.
However, recent shifts in public opinion (likely driven by the large amount of tax revenue collected by states where online gambling is legal) resulted in a legislative effort that eventually bore fruit.
In April of 2020, and after a two-year legislative process, Governor Ralph Northam and the General Assembly pushed through a legal sports betting bill with the following stipulations:
- The Virginia Lottery Board would oversee and regulate sports betting licenses
- Between four and 12 licenses would be handed out in total
- Additionally, up to five retail casino licenses were to be handed out to different cities
New Gambling Laws
This essentially legalized online sports betting and brick-and-mortar retail casinos in the same document. However, it also limited the growth of these industries. Time will tell whether Virginia’s citizens and legislators will see the benefits of online gambling and vote to expand the number of licenses available within the state.
Sports betting in Virginia will not rely on in-person registration, and most of it will be online since the number of online licenses exceeds the number of retail casinos with which an operator could theoretically partner. Still, it’s expected that all five casinos will eventually get exclusive sportsbook partners, such as the deals described above.
However, Virginia’s new sports betting and retail casino legislation did not include legalization for online casinos, poker, and other gambling activities. In this way, Virginia is still a relatively limited state in terms of total gambling options.
Legal Online Gambling Options
Let’s take a closer look at what Virginia allows in terms of legal online gambling activities.
As mentioned, Virginia’s sports betting legislation did not explicitly allow online casino operations. However, many of the sports betting operators that are expected to launch sports betting apps in 2021 already have online casino apps ready to go.
Will they launch? It’s tough to say. Chances are that Virginia, when handing out licenses to those operators, will explicitly tell them not to offer casino games, at least for now.
The state government is likely waiting to see how retail casinos work out before allowing online casino access. Additionally, such operation would require the sports betting operators to apply for different licenses than those required just for sports betting.
In the meantime, Virginia casino enthusiasts will only be able to enjoy online casino games from sweepstakes or social gaming sites like Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. Both of these sites are legal since they don’t allow wagering with real money.
Instead, the sites have players buy Gold Coin packages they can then use to play the games. Sweeps Coins come as gifts along with the Gold Coin packages and players use them to play Sweeps Coins games. Over time, players can accumulate Sweeps Coins and eventually trade them in for cash prizes.
Chumba and LuckyLand Slots offer a good variety of slot games and other casino offerings between them. LuckyLand Slots focuses more on slot games, whereas Chumba offers a few table games as well. However, neither option provides video poker or similar games at this time.
As with in-person poker, online poker is strictly illegal in Virginia at this time. The Virginia gambling law held no provisions for poker in any form. So, it’s also unlikely that any retail casinos will offer poker unless new legislation comes forward.
However, players can still enjoy online poker through sweepstakes sites like Global Poker. As with Chumba and LuckyLand, this site doesn’t allow players to wager real money when sitting at a virtual poker table. Instead, players compete for Gold Coins and occasionally earn Sweeps Coins that are exchangeable for cash prizes.
Global Poker is a decent poker app overall, offering a few major varieties of Texas Hold ‘Em and regular weekend tournaments. Some of them can include potential prize pools of up to several thousand dollars. However, skill levels of opposing players can vary dramatically, leading to uneven play. There’s no guessing as to whether you’ll wipe the floor with your competition or be outmatched.
Players can also still participate in “social poker”, which is any poker game played at home or in a private establishment for the purpose of fun rather than winning money.
Out of all gambling activities, online sports betting is the most cut and dry. It recently became legal in Virginia, and players can expect up to seventeen sports betting apps to launch within the state over the next few years.
Online sports betting is totally legal, and it’s only a matter of time until operators are allowed to launch their proprietary apps. The only reason they haven’t done so yet is that they’ve only just been able to apply for a sports betting license since October 2020. The Virginia Lottery Board is still going over applications and deciding which operators they want to allow into the state.
Note that some sports betting operators will be paired with retail casinos once they’re built. Since building a casino takes several years, many major operators, like DraftKings and FanDuel, may opt to apply for independent licenses so they can begin offering sports betting sooner rather than later.
Daily Fantasy Sports
As with most states in the US, online daily fantasy sports are totally legal in Virginia. In fact, the state made DFS legal in 2016 with its Fantasy Contests Acts. This essentially described daily fantasy sports in such a way that it didn’t qualify under the state’s otherwise draconian anti-gambling legislation.
Most states, like Virginia, classify daily fantasy sports as activities of skill instead of pure chance. As a result, operators like DraftKings and FanDuel have been operating in Virginia for quite some time, offering daily fantasy sports to anyone who wishes to participate.
With the legalization of other online gambling options, it’s likely that DFS will to thrive and grow in Virginia.
Horse racing was thought to have been permanently gone from Virginia. However, the state now offers horse racing at its historic Colonial Downs race track, as it did before the track was temporarily shut down and almost turned into a golf course. This sole race track offers live racing throughout the summer. Additionally, the Colonial Downs organization operates four off-track locations in the cities of Richmond, New Kent, Vinton, and Hampton.
Ultimately, there are hundreds of horse racing events every year. Players can also enjoy several thousand historical horse racing machines that utilize data from old horse races. These are essentially crosses between horse racing wagers and slot machines.
Furthermore, online horse racing is legal throughout Virginia. Apps like TVG operate for the benefit of horse racing enthusiasts. Such apps offer 24/7 broadcasts of horse racing throughout the world, plus excellent user interfaces and special wagering offers.
What Types Of Bonuses To Expect At Legal Online Betting Sites
Online betting sportsbooks, like the ones we expect to see launched by DraftKings and Caesars, will include opening bonuses to persuade new players to try them out. Here are the bonuses we expect to see from online sports betting apps.
A no-deposit bonus is essentially a small amount of site credit that a player receives just for making an account with a sportsbook operator. These bonuses are typically quite small to prevent players from taking advantage of the freebies. But they’re easy to use and usually come with strict usage rules.
For instance, DraftKings offers five $5 credits to be used after a player makes an account rather than a flat $25 credit.
Deposit Match Bonuses
A deposit match bonus kicks in when a player makes a deposit into a new account. The operator then pledges to match that amount up to a certain monetary limit.
DraftKings again provides an excellent example. It offers a 20% deposit match up to $500 for both its mobile sportsbook app and its DFS app. For instance, if you deposit $1,000, you will get an additional $200 in site credit.
You will usually need to “play through” the bonus a number of times before you can withdraw any winnings.
Risk-Free Bet Bonuses
A risk-free bet bonus applies if you make a wager and lose. Up to a certain monetary limit, the operator will reimburse you with site credit. These amounts can vary from as little as $20 all the way up to several hundred dollars depending on the operator.
Some operators offer additional bonuses depending on the app. For example, DraftKings’ DFS app provides $20 of site credit just for making an account and for depositing at least $5.
Unfortunately, online bonuses for casinos and poker sites are impossible to guess since both of these activities are currently illegal.
Legal Online Gambling In Virginia FAQ
Ultimately, players will need to be 21 or older to participate on any online gambling app in Virginia, including sports betting apps and DFS apps. This limit will likely stick around if online casinos and poker apps ever become legal.
This is distinct from the state’s legal lottery age, which is only 18.
The Virginia Lottery Board is in charge of regulating all new online gambling apps and sites. They’re also the ones responsible for handing out sports betting and casino licenses. Should online casinos and poker come to the state, they’ll be in charge of regulating those operations, too.
Most online sportsbook apps provide players with multiple ways to make deposits and withdraw their winnings. Popular deposit methods include:
- Debit and credit cards
- Electronic checks
- PayPal and other electronic wallets
- Direct bank transfers
In most cases, a player’s options for withdrawing their winnings are a little more limited. Options may be credit card, debit card, or direct bank transfers. It all depends on the operator. Players should check to see what deposit and withdrawal options are available before signing up with a new legal online gambling app.
If you want to withdraw your winnings electronically, keep in mind that most options require one to two business days.
All legal online gambling apps employ robust digital security systems and SSL certification (which is a type of encryption that protects sensitive information). Furthermore, regulatory bodies like the Virginia Lottery Board perform inspections to make sure that security is up to snuff.
An online sports betting app, for instance, will take your personal information. But that information is under digital lock and key and will not be easy for any would-be hacker to access.
Yes. In fact, legal online gambling is much safer than checking out an offshore gambling site. Typically, no regulate body oversees offshore gambling sites.
Thus, if there’s something wrong with your earnings or if the site refuses to let you withdraw your winnings, there’s no one to hold them accountable. An offshore or illegitimate gambling site is much more likely than a legal site to take advantage of players.
You can contact the Virginia Lottery Board and detail your complaint. If the online gambling app in question doesn’t respond to your problem, the Board may perform an independent investigation into the matter and determine whether your claim has merit.
For instance, if some money vanished from your account and the operator denies this, the investigation might reveal a glitch in the system responsible for your lost money.