Virginia is an interesting state. There are many people living in the state that work in Washington, D.C., so even though the state itself has a lot of rural areas, there is an advanced political movement inside the borders. This has extended into the gambling realm, and this page is meant to bring you up to speed on the current gambling laws within the state as well as what could be coming in the future.
Sports Betting in Virginia
The ripple effect of things that transpire in D.C. is usually felt in Virginia very quickly, but in the case of the Supreme Court’s ruling to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), not much has changed in the state. Sports betting is still considered illegal, as it was before the ruling. However, as many states around Virginia are choosing to regulate the industry, we can only imagine that it will happen for Virginians soon as well. This is a state that loves its college sports, and the proximity to professional sports teams all around it makes it a ripe opportunity to generate some tax revenue from sports gamblers.
Online Sports Betting
Residents of Virginia have had alternatives of where to turn to place sports bets even in an unregulated local climate. Local bookies are alive and well, prospering on the fact that there was no legal place to bet in-person. Also, offshore online sportsbooks have been around for years taking play from United States residents. Unfortunately, the pace of change is pretty slow in Virginia and it looks like the land based casino project in the state (which would include sports betting) is unlikely to pass before the end of the year if at all. This means that online sports betting is going to remain illegal even longer, to the detriment of players and the state.
Horse Betting in Virginia
Now, here is a story that we find uplifting in 2018. Horse racing has been popular in the state for decades, but the industry has seen better days. Betting numbers are in decline, and with so many other options for people to entertain themselves these days, a day at the racetrack has become less appealing. One of the tracks in Virginia, Colonial Downs, finally had to shut their doors because it was no longer viable to operate in this climate.
Here is the good news! In 2018, the Virginia government decided to give the horse racing industry a chance to live another day by legalizing something called “historical racing machines.” These machines have the look and feel of a slot machine, but the results are based on the outcome of a historical horse race that is drawn at random. The betting is all pari-mutuel, so it fits under the current horse betting regulations. Once this law was passed, a buyer came along to purchase Colonial Downs, and the track plans to reopen in 2019. The new owners also plan to breathe new life into the industry by opening multiple off-track betting sites in the state. This is incredibly encouraging, and we hope residents of Virginia support this ownership group by attending races at Colonial Downs again!
Online Horse Betting
Online horse betting exists in Virginia, but no licenses are held by local operators. Instead, companies that are licensed in Oregon but allowed to take players from other states are accepting wagers from Virginians. These companies include Twinspires and Xpressbet. We wonder if the state will do anything to protect the local industry by blocking access to these sites, but it doesn’t look like they are planning a move like that anytime soon.
Casino Gambling in Virginia
The decision to allow Historical Racing machines in Virginia was indeed a landmark one, especially when you consider that all other forms of casino gambling remain illegal in the state. There are no land-based casinos in the state, meaning that if you want to sit at a blackjack table, you will have to travel to another state to do so. There is a plan to legalize casino games and to open one land based casino but it is not likely to advance before the end of 2019, if at all. But if a serious discussion starts about sports betting in neighbouring states, it could be an opportunity for proponents of casinos gambling to push the debate to go faster.
Online Casinos in Virginia
Online casinos are available to anyone in the state who is willing to create an account and deposit funds with an illegal online casino located abroad. These sites are all based offshore, primarily in the Caribbean and Latin America and offer zero protection to players from Virginia or the United States. Hopefully, once the first land-based casino opens, the next move will be to legalize online casino play as well but right now, there is no specific plan to make that a reality in Virginia.
Lottery in Virginia
Virginia is a state where the lottery is very popular. With many transient residents, the daily draw games are played by thousands every day, and the huge pooled jackpots from games like Powerball and Mega Millions are also available to play at retailers in the state. These games pool play from dozens of states, which is how the jackpots grow so quickly. Both have seen action into the hundreds of millions in the past, with Mega Millions making it all the way to a record 1.6 Billion jackpot in 2018.
Virginia Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Virginia?
Sports betting is not currently legal in Virginia. However, Virginia was the first state to decide to regulate Daily Fantasy Sports, and that is an encouraging sign as our attention now turns to single-game sports betting. The state’s proximity to Washington, D.C. will have some influence on how the state moves towards sports betting, but for now, there are no places you can make a legal sports bet in-person in Virginia.
When will sports betting be legal in Virginia?
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we guess that Virginia will move towards a sports betting bill in 2020. Even though there is a federal backlash to the repeal of PASPA in Washington, the states that neighbor Virginia are starting to put regulations in place, and rather than have their residents drive out of state to place bets (and send tax revenues out of the state), Virginia needs to move quickly to provide a legal safe haven inside their borders.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Virginia?
Online sportsbooks come in all shapes and sizes, but ultimately all the top books offer great odds on all types of sports. These days, in-play betting (bets made on the result of the next play or drive) are gaining in popularity, so we tend to steer players towards the sites that offer the most in-play options. Hand in hand with in-play betting is a good mobile offering, so that also would differentiate the best online sportsbooks for players from Virginia.