Sports Betting Virginia

Some states are conservative but at some point, they bend a little and allow some activities they swore not to. Unfortunately, the state of Virginia is far from these states – it is one of the 10 super-conservative states holding out on gambling. The state of Virginia does not have a tribal or even a state-sanctioned casino. Over the years, the lawmakers in the state have attempted to join in on the national gambling rush, but their efforts have not been as successful. The main reason for this being that people from different political spectrum are opposed to gambling because of religious, moral and other reasons.

But, there is some good news. Even though the passing of legislation to legalize gambling might take too long, it appears that the lawmakers are really pushing for the enactment of laws to legalize the casinos and other forms of gambling.

Online Sports Betting in Virginia

As mentioned above, it will be a while before traditional casinos are legalized in Virginia. However, there is some great news to sports bettors. Legislators are in the process of enacting laws to allow sports betting. Obviously, this means that online sports betting Virginia is still illegal. And all we can do now is wait to see what happens in the next few months.

Online Fantasy Sports Betting

In 2006 and in the provisions of UIGEA, states were allowed to determine the legality of online fantasy sports (DFS) betting because it did not fall into the same category of sports betting/ gambling and is regarded as a game of skill.

Note: that before the bill was passed into law in 2016, DFS sites ran seamlessly thanks to a host of factors. Among them is State Statute § 18.2-333 which explained that the wagers placed by participants in the speed or game of skill contests were not regarded as gambling.

So, if you are a DFS fan in Virginia, you can still enter contests and bet without worrying about the law. You should, however, note that the legalization of online sports betting in the state did not happen overnight. While the online DFS betting scene continues to explode across the country, the state of Virginia took its time to legalize it.

In 2016, the state of Virginia legalized online DFS legally.  The legalization happened in the wake of the signing of The Fantasy Contests Act by Governor Terry McAuliffe. The governor’s intention when signing the bill was the protection of consumers while overseeing the industry. For these, the bill had specific requirements:

The DFS operators would be required to register with the state and part with $50,000 as the registration fee.

The DFS operators would prevent participants under 18 years from participating in the contests

The operators would have to offer self-exclusion mechanisms for its customers

The operators would prevent their employees from participating in the real-money contests, and they wouldn’t share any confidential/ inside information about the contests.


Sports Betting in Virginia

Late 2018, the state of Virginia appears in the radar of the national sports betting industry when the lawmakers from the state revealed their plan to introduce legislation for sports betting during the upcoming legislative session in 2019. Delegate Mark Sickle, in November 2018 prefiled House Bill 1638 in preparation for the legislative session. He also indicated the bill would be referred to by the house committee before January 9th, 2019.

Though it all looks promising, it is only the start. Sports betting in Virginia is far from being regarded as a done deal. HB1638 has to be debated, and it must receive favorable votes for it to get the governor’s signature. Should the bill make it past the legislative process, the HB1638 will give the Virginia Lottery the authority to oversee not just online sports betting, but also in-person sports betting at selected land-based sportsbooks.

At the moment, however, the bill’s fate remains unknown/ unclear. Also, the bill fails to clarify the potential locations of sportsbooks in the state, given the fact that the state of Virginia does not have any actual casinos. It would, therefore, appear that if the state legalizes sports betting, then online sports betting might go live before in-person sports betting.

The other reason why you should be hopeful is the fact that there is the widely-circulated report by Eilers & Krekcik. In the report, the state of Virginia is listed among the states that are most likely to legalize sports betting in less than or within two years following the Supreme Court Ruling which deemed the provisions of PASPA unconstitutional. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is the federal law which regarded as illegal and prohibited all forms of sports wagering in all states, except Nevada and Delaware.

In a December 5 survey/ poll published by the Wason Center for Public Policy based at the Christopher Newport University, at least 63 percent of voters in Virginia strongly support the legalization of sports betting.

The Virginia Residents’ Take on Sports Betting and Legalization of Gambling in Casinos

Sports Betting as a way of keeping criminals out of business: In the survey carried out by Wason Center for Public Policy, the residents of Virginia were also polled on their thoughts about ‘whether or not they think the legalization of sports betting would keep criminals out of business.’ The poll revealed that only 43 percent of the residents disagreed while 51 percent agreed with the notion. It, therefore, means that the lawmakers will have to come up with strict regulations to encourage confidence.

Involvement of a tribal casino: the state of Virginia is having sports betting discussions taking place alongside the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to encourage the launch of a casino in the state. Should this be approved, the tribal casino would be under the regulation of the federal government, and the casino would most probably have its sportsbook for sports wagering. The poll revealed a 64 percent vote in support of the proposal to involve a tribe casino.

Allowing casinos and sports betting in the state: the poll reveals mixed reaction and perceptions towards opening up traditional casinos and sportsbooks in the state. While some of the residents support the legalization of sports betting and casinos as a move to improve the amount of tax revenue generated, others note that the two should only be legalized if only they will be regulated and also taxed. On regulation, about 29 percent of the persons polled note that regulating sports betting and the casinos is the only way to keep things safe. There is also a small percentage that notes the impact of sports betting and gambling in casinos as potential causes/ elements to promote gambling addiction. Others argue that the activities will promote negative values and crime.

That said, all Virginia residents can do is wait for the lawmakers to decide on whether to legalize sports betting or not.

Horse Racing

If you live in Virginia and are into betting/ gambling, you are extremely unlucky. One, the state is yet to legalize sports betting, two, you cannot bet on horse races anymore. Virginia’s lone harness racetracks, the Colonial Downs got its race dates denies by the state, and the property is now being converted into a golf course.

Horse racing was, for a long time legal in the state of Virginia. The state approved its pari-mutuel horse racing wagering in 1988, issuing its only and first race track license in 1994. The result was the opening of the Colonial Downs in 1997. The opening was received with significant fanfare. Unfortunately, the timing was off with horse racing entering into an industry that was already going into an irrecoverable downturn. Since then, the Colonial Downs had a difficult time getting above water. One of the reasons for this is the schedule of races. In 2014, the racetrack had 24 races only. With such small numbers of races, keeping up the costs became impossible and unjustifiable for the Colonial Downs. There also were endless disputes between the racing teams and the commission. Unfortunately, the disputes did nothing to help, and in October 2014, the race track, as well as the other off-track betting locations were closed down.

On the Brightside, if you are a handicapper, you can place your wagers online at a licensed website. Twinspires and TVG are the two websites licensed to accept wagers on horse racing betting.

In a bid to revive wagering on horse racing, the Colonial Downs was, in a 2018 legislative vote, allowed to install its first instant racing machines, as well as off-track betting parlors. The installed machines look exactly like the slot machines if you show them to a gambler, but they are a result of historical outcomes on horse races. Their set up is aimed at skirting the anti-gambling laws. In most ways, the bill would be the best way for horse racing to thrive in Virginia. The opponents to this bill argued that the bill was only an expansion of gambling and that it wouldn’t serve the residents of Virginia too well.

The proponents of the bill fought for the bill by noting that the Colonial Downs had been inactive from 2014 and the offer to buy then reopen the tracks was completely dependent on the track’s authorization to install the gaming machines.

Other forms of gambling in Virginia

Most forms of online and offline casino games are illegal in Virginia. But to understand why, a walk down the history lane is plausible, especially considering that most (if not all) attempts to legalize the riverboat casinos have been futile. None of the attempts have made it to the Virginia State Senate’s floor. The deep level of conservativeness and the religiousness of the Southern state is the top reason for the failed attempts. The voting citizens and house representatives need a lot of convincing for them to plunge into or rather dip their feet into the casino industry.

Online Gambling – Options

With the state and the tribes yet to agree on bringing in sports betting or gambling into the state, online gambling is far from being legal in Virginia. For now, bettors and gamblers can only get into the online gambling arena through the offshore sites for betting/ gambling.

As per the Virginia gambling laws, illegal gambling refers to the placement of wagers or bets with the hope of earning money or a prize, depending on the outcome of a contest, event or game that relies on chance.

Social Casino Sites

It is not the real deal, but the residents of Virginia could make their ply at the social casino sites like the Big Five and Double Down Casino which feature free play apps accessible through Facebook or downloadable smartphone apps. With the social casinos, there is no chance of winning any real money.

Thanks to the provisions of § 18.2-334 social games are now legal in Virginia as long as it takes place in private residences and if the operators do not benefit from the games.

Online Poker

Regarded as an illegal activity in Virginia, online poker is neither authorized nor regulated by the state. The only way for an interested party to get involved would be through visiting the offshore casinos and poker sites that would let them play cards for real money.  Unfortunately, the offline sites are largely unsafe.

There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope to see online poker legalized. This is thanks to the two court cases presented in the past. The cases seek to test the theory that poker is actually a game of skill. Should a judge rule poker as a game of skill, it would be deemed legal. The first two cases were presented in court in 2010 and 2013, but they failed. However, another bill seeking to classify poker as a game of skill was introduced in 2017 January. This bill is the Senate Bill 1400.  SB1400 made it to the Senate and passed with a full vote. Unfortunately, this bill died when it moved to the house.

By classifying poker as a game of skill, there is a high likelihood of poker becoming legal.

It would, therefore, appear that all the poker lovers have to do it to hope for their lucky break or continue playing from the offshore sites which are largely unregulated.

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