The state of Virginia is one of several hold-out states that does not allow casino gambling. The state does not have any tribal, commercial or online casinos. In fact, every attempt to legalize casino gambling in the state has been met with heavy resistance from parties on both sides of the political spectrum due to a combination of moral and religious reasons held by lawmakers and the legislature. With the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) it is possible that sports betting may be authorized before casino gambling. So where does Virginia stand on sports betting? Let’s have a look.

Is it legal to bet on sports in Virginia?

No, it is illegal to place wagers on professional and amateur sports such as basketball, football and hockey. Residents can, however, place pari-mutuel wagers on horse racing events that are held at racetracks in the state. Several bills have been introduced by lawmakers in the state that could authorize full-scale sports betting. These include:

Each of these bills brings something different to the table, however HB 1638 appears to be the most comprehensive of the bills. HB 1638 was prefilled in November 2018 and, if successful, will repeal the prohibition against the sale of lottery tickets online and legalize sports betting on professional sports in Virginia. The bill will also create the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund. Under this bill, sports betting will be monitored by the Virginia Lottery. As there are no casinos in the state, it’s possible that this will lead to the authorization of mobile and online sports betting.

SB 1126 is another interesting bill, as this would legalize sports betting as well as casino gambling in the state and lead to the opening of Virginia’s first-ever casino. if successful, casino gambling will be regulated by the Virginia Lottery Board. The bill outlines licensing procedures and sets punishments for parties that violate casino gambling law. The bill also establishes the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund which will be overseen by the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Where will I be able to place bets on sporting events in Virginia?

It is not yet clear where residents will be able to bet on sports. Some legislation is calling for casino gambling, which includes land-based sports betting at casinos in Virginia. However, it appears that online and mobile sports betting are more likely to become a reality in Virginia, as there are no casinos in the state.

What sports will I be able to bet on?

If sports betting is legalized in Virginia residents and visitors will be able to place bets on professional sporting events, as well as MLB, NHL, NFL and NBA events. Some legislation, such as SB 1356, would legalize betting on college sports.

What else can I bet on in Virginia?

As one of America’s hold out states, there are very few gambling options available in Virginia. Aside from betting on horse racing, residents can participate in the Virginia Lottery which offers several games, such as Powerball and Mega Millions. Residents can also participate in charitable gambling. Social poker is permitted as long as the house doesn’t take a cut from the pot.

As an alternative to sports betting, Virginians can play online fantasy sports games that are offered by companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Although land-based and online casino gambling is illegal, residents can also play social casino games online. In Virginia, you can access Big Fish, Double Down Casino and Slotomania.

Residents can also travel across state lines and visit casinos in the neighboring states of Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland. As previously mentioned, pari-mutuel wagers can be placed on horse racing in Virginia, but horse racing operations in the state have yet to go live.

Here are the venues where you will be able to bet on horses:

Name Venue Type Location Contact Email Opening Date
Colonial Downs Racetrack + Rosie’s Gaming Racetrack and Off-track Betting Parlor 10515 Colonial Downs Parkway, New Kent, VA 23124, USA TBC TBC 18 April 2019
Rosie’s Vinton Off-track Betting Parlor Vinton TBC TBC April 2019
Rosie’s Richmond Off-track Betting Parlor Richmond TBC TBC June 2019
Rosie’s Hampton Off-track Betting Parlor Hampton TBC TBC August 2019
Rosie’s Chesapeake Off-track Betting Parlor Chesapeake TBC TBC Late 2019

Are offshore gambling sites legal in Virginia?

Offshore gambling sites are a form of online gambling which is illegal in Virginia. State Statutes 18.5-35 classes illegal online gambling on illicit gambling sites that operate outside of Virginia as a Class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine.

Aside from legality, we recommend avoiding offshore gambling sites due to the lack of regulation. Because these sites are not licensed or regulated, they may not be secure or may not have measures in place to protect vulnerable players. Additionally, licensed regulators are required by law to hold player funds in separate accounts from operating capital, this is something that offshore operators are not required to do, so there’s no guaranteed your funds will be managed responsibly.

You can spot offshore gambling sites by looking at the website’s domain name. If you see a domain that ends in .EU or .AG, it does not hold a license to operate in Virginia and therefore should be avoided at all costs.

Will it be safe to bet on sports in Virginia?

If sports betting is legalized in Virginia regulators will be sure to introduce a strong regulatory framework that emphasizes player protection and safety. If gambling is becoming an issue for yourself or someone you know, it is best to research and educate yourself on the different resources that can help you. The National Council on Problem Gambling has a number of educational resources available to residents in Virginia. Virginians can also reach out to the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling, a non-profit organization that aims to educate Virginia residents on problem gambling.

You can contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline via:

Phone: +1-800-522-4700

Text: +1-800-522-4700

Online Chat

You can contact the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling via:

Phone: +1-804-827-0921

Email: cehawley@vcu.edu

Helpline: +1-888-532-3500

Who regulates gambling in Virginia?

In Virginia, charitable gambling activities are overseen by the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP). Pari-mutuel wagering in Virginia is overseen by the Virginia Racing Commission.

How old do I have to be to gamble in Virginia?

The legal age for all gambling activities in Virginia is 18.

The journey to legal and regulated sports betting in Virginia

1973 – Charitable gambling laws were introduced, and local governments were given the responsibility of overseeing charitable gambling.

1987 – Virginia gave the state lottery approval.

1988 – The Virginia Lottery went live in the state.

1989 – The Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) was formed and tasked with the responsibility of monitoring horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Virginia.

1992 – Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting sports betting across US states. Four states were made exempt from the law: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. These states had legal sports betting regulations in place.

1995 – Lawmakers in the state introduced a bill that would establish a riverboat gaming commission but did not make it past the committee stage.

1997 – Colonial Downs, the first horse racing track in Virginia, opened for business.

2003 – The responsibilities of the Virginia Racing Commission were expanded upon to include off-track betting venues.

2004 – EZ Betting terminals were introduced for the first time in Virginia. These offered digital betting games.

2013 – Gambling interests in the state tried to introduce a riverboat gambling bill but failed to gain enough support for it.

2014 – Colonial Downs refused to run any more races due to heavy financial losses.

2016 – The Virginia Racing Commission denied all applications to host horse racing events in the state.

2018 – In April, Virginia enacted a new law to allow racing machines at horse racing tracks and off-track betting parlors making it a financially viable option for Colonial Downs to reopen. Several weeks later investors from a Chicago-based company called Revolutionary Racing purchased Colonial Downs. Revolutionary Racing and several other investors formed the Colonial Downs Group.

On 14 May, the Supreme Court reached a decision. In a 7 – 2 vote it was agreed that one of the clauses in PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment, as its commandeered power from states to

regulate their own gambling industries. This paved the way for all US states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting. In the weeks after the repeal of PASPA a number of US sportsbooks launched across the country.

After the repeal of PASPA lawmakers began to explore the possibility of legalizing sports betting in Virginia and began working on bills for the 2019 legislative session.

In December, after several years of closure, Colonial Downs announced 15 race dates between August and September in 2019.

2019 – Before the start of the 2019 legislative session, a total of eight sports betting bills were introduced by various lawmakers in the state.

It is now up to Virginia’s lawmakers to decide whether to legalize sports betting or not. For updates on sports betting in Virginia, BettingUS has got you covered.