Until 2020, Virginia was practically without gambling options and infrastructure. The recent passage of major gambling expansion legislation, which allows online and retail sports betting and as many as five commercial casinos, has significantly altered the commonwealth’s gaming landscape. Online sports betting launched in January 2021.
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Virginia’s gambling expansion legislation in 2020 does not include online casino gambling. An alternative for Virginia players is playing free online slots and table games at social and sweepstakes casinos, in which players are given virtual coins and can play to win prizes or for amusement. Gambling.com’s top social casinos are listed above.
Online casino gambling at offshore-based sites, which are unregulated, is not recommended. Offshore casino sites are risky as they are unregulated and may abruptly shut down, causing players to lose access to their funds with no recourse.
Virginia allows online gambling on pari-mutuel wagering, Daily Fantasy Sports and state lottery sales. Online sports betting launched in January 2021.
State lawmakers recently pushed through a significant gambling expansion. Additional expansion of real money online casino gaming seems unlikely in the short term.
Most likely, lawmakers will monitor the progress of online sports wagering and commercial casino gambling after both are up and running. If wagering meets or exceeds projections, and the state is seeking additional revenue streams to address budget shortfalls, lawmakers may eventually consider online casino gambling.
Virginia has no land-based casinos, though several may be on the way.
Voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth approved a land-based casino license in each city in November 2020 voting. Four of the five cities have already announced preferred casino partners. The fifth city, Richmond, will vote on a casino measure in 2021.
The partnerships: Bristol and Hard Rock; Danville and Caesars; Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming; and Norfolk with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The Pamunkey Tribe also appears to be the frontrunner in Richmond, with Colonial Downs Group, owner of the state’s horse racing track, also bidding for the license.
Preferred casino partners Hard Rock, Caesars and Rush Street Gaming all have online casino operations in other states and would likely offer mobile casino wagering in Virginia, if allowed. The Pamunkey Tribe could do the same with its own casino site.
If and when online casino gambling is approved in Virginia, online casino apps will play a major role.
Casino apps offer the convenience of placing a wager any time, any day, from anywhere in Virginia, on your smartphone or tablet. The casino gaming apps are easy to use, free to download and typically work with both iOS and Android devices.
Online Slots: Whether you prefer three-reel or progressive machines, most of your favorite slot games at land-based casinos are available online, in addition to new titles with the latest graphics and animation.
Online Poker: In states where it is legal, online poker has experienced a record revenue surge after the coronavirus shut down land-based cardrooms. All of the same formats are available online, including cash games, tournament play and Sit & Go events.
Lottery: The Virginia Lottery is already online. Players can purchase state lottery tickets and play lottery games on their mobile device or computer. Players must be located inside the state at time of purchase.
Online Roulette: The online version uses an electronic random generator instead of a physical wheel. European and French Roulette offers players more favorable odds than American Roulette.
Online Blackjack: Blackjack is the most popular table game, whether playing at a real money casino site or at a land-based casino. The online version offers more varieties of blackjack to choose from, lower minimum bets and no waiting for a table.
Live Dealer: Creates a more authentic casino-like experience with a live person dealing a table game (blackjack, roulette, baccarat) from a studio or casino-like setting. The action is streamed to your mobile device or computer. Players can online chat with the dealer and other players at the table. Not every site offers live dealer, though.
Online casino operators attempt to make deposit and withdrawal options as simple and efficient as possible. The most common payment methods:
E-wallets: PayPal and Neteller are the most widely accepted. Open an account and your e-wallet will store your financial information and allow you to quickly transfer funds to and from your online gambling account for low fees.
Credit/debit card: The most popular deposit method, but not always the most satisfying. Some banks treat deposit requests as cash advances and charge high fees, others may not process gambling transactions. In addition, credit/debit cards generally can't be used to make withdrawals.
Play+/Prepaid cards: Play+ was created for exactly this purpose. Typically you can sign up directly from a link on the casino site. Deposit funds via credit card or bank account on to your Play+ card and then deposit those funds into your casino account. You can also withdraw winnings back on to the card and access them at an ATM. Prepaid cards can be purchased at retail outlets or often on your online casino operator's website. Primarily used for deposits, but some allow withdrawals.
Bank transfer/E-check: A digital connection established between your bank and online gambling account makes it easy to transfer funds between the two. Low fees.
PayNearMe/check: Use cash to make a deposit through PayNearMe, which scans a barcode to transfer the money to your online account. For withdrawals, many online casino operators will mail a check if you request one. This method cannot be used for withdrawals.
Online casino operators vie in a competitive marketplace and offer online bonuses and promotions to sign up new customers and retain existing ones. The most common bonus offers:
No deposit bonus: Sign up for an account and your casino operator provides you with a small deposit bonus.
Deposit match: Make your first deposit and the operator will match that amount, up to 100%. It's important to read the fine print — deposit match bonuses generally include requirements that the bonus money be wagered a specific number of times before it can be redeemed, usually in increments. Always read the terms and conditions.
Reload bonus: Sometimes offered to existing players whose accounts have been depleted or players inactive for a period of time.
Free spins/tournament entry: Offered to slot players to try new or different games or to enter tournaments with no buy-in fee required.
Virginia retains a proud colonial history and had for years maintained some of that era's old-school philosophies when it comes to freedoms such as gambling. Times have changed as lawmakers have approved retail and online sports betting and several cities are considering legal casino gambling referendums.
Online sports betting launches.
Voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth approve casino gambling referendums. Richmond is set to vote in November 2021.
Bill allowing online and retail sports gambling is passed by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam.
Legislators approve bill legalizing casino gambling in five Virginia cities, pending local referendums.
State lawmakers introduce sports betting legislation. Though bill fails, groundwork is laid for potential passage of bill the following year.
Virginia Lottery allows online ticket sales.
Legislation attempting to legalize riverboat casinos in the state, first introduced in 1995, is defeated again.
Colonial Downs in New Kent is first horse track to open in Virginia. It operates until 2014, when shut down due to dispute with horsemen. Track reopens in 2019.
Voters approve Virginia Lottery. First ticket is sold the following year.
State lawmakers approved a comprehensive sports betting bill in 2020, with mobile and online wagering launching in January 2021. Retail sports wagering will follow at the approved casinos.
The legislation, which officially became law on July 1, 2020, allows for up to 12 licenses for online sports betting platforms. Online licenses are also expected to be awarded to casinos in the five cities authorized to have them.
After lawmakers agreed to an amendment proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam, the state's two NASCAR tracks were added as venues for sports gambling. Colonial Downs horse track is also eligible for a sports betting license.
In addition, the bill gives any top-tier professional sports franchise based in the state the right to open a physical sportsbook. The Washington Football Team of the NFL has its headquarters and training facility in Ashburn, Va., making it eligible for a sports betting license. The franchise is also considering building a new stadium in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C.
Virginia will tax sports betting revenue at a 15% rate and sets licensing fees for operators at $250,000, with a three-year annual renewal fee of $200,000.
VIRGINIA SPORTS BETTING, APRIL vs. MARCH
|Change||Down 22.2%||Down 17.8%||Up 39.6%|
Updated May 28
Virginia sports betting legislation was signed into law in April 2020.
The Virginia Lottery, which regulates sports betting in the state, is currently developing rules and regulations and offered a 60-day public comment period beginning in July. After regulations are finalized in mid-September, the Virginia Lottery will begin accepting sports betting applications, and will have 90 days to rule on each application.
Online sports betting in Virginia launched in January 2021, several weeks before the Super Bowl.
Virginia was the first state in the U.S. to regulate Daily Fantasy Sports betting, with Gov. Terry McAuliffe signing the bill in March 2016. The state's Fantasy Sports Act creates several safeguards and provisions, including a minimum age of 18 to play.
All of the major Daily Fantasy Sports operators including Draftkings, FanDuel and Yahoo accept accounts from Virginia residents.
Virginia's lone horse track is Colonial Downs in New Kent. The track plays host to a six-week summer thoroughbred meet and year-round simulcast wagering. The facility was closed for nearly six years due to a dispute with horsemen before reopening in 2019.
The state has off-track betting facilities in Chesapeake, Collinsville, Hampton, Henrico, Richmond and Vinton. The state also enacted a law in 2018 to install historical racing machines (instant racing) at Colonial Downs and off-track wagering facilities.
Virginia allows online wagering on horse racing through national advance deposit wagering platforms, such as TVG and TwinSpires.
Virginia’s new sports betting law allows for more than a dozen online operators, and many of the top national operators will be involved. That includes Caesars, Hard Rock and Rush Street Gaming, which are all in line to operate commercial casinos in Virginia if voters approve.
Several other heavyweights such as BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National Gaming and William Hill are likely to apply for online sportsbook licenses and could partner with one of the state’s NASCAR tracks or the Washington Football Team.
Virginia's sports betting bill permits wagering on nearly all pro and college sports, along with many international sports.
Betting on college games involving Virginia-based teams is not permitted, nor are proposition bets on college sports. Wagers placed on college events played in the state not involving Virginia teams are allowed.
Online casino gambling is not allowed. Online sports betting was legalized in April 2020 and launched in January 2021. Online wagering on Daily Fantasy Sports, horse racing and the Virginia Lottery is legal as are social casinos.
The minimum gambling age for sports betting in Virginia is 21. It's 18 for pari-mutuel wagering, Daily Fantasy Sports and lottery.
State lawmakers passed legislation in 2020 allowing for casino gambling in five Virginia cities, pending voter referendums: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond. All but Richmond approved of casino gambling in November 2020 while Richmond is set to vote in November 2021.
No. Accounts can be set up from anywhere, but bettors will need to be physically located inside the state to legally place a wager.
Some offers may be from offshore-based online gambling sites, with are unlicensed, unregulated and should be avoided. Others are from social casinos, which offer free online slots and table games for prizes or amusement, with no actual money changing hands.
Bettors can wager on pari-mutuels at Colonial Downs in New Kent, off-track betting locations, and play the lottery at retail locations across the state. No casinos operate in Virginia, though four cities voted to approve casino gambling in November 2020.
Virginia online sports betting began in January 2021, with FanDuel the first sportsbook approved to begin operations.
The Virginia Lottery regulates online gambling in Virginia.
Yes, provided bettors are playing a regulated site that is licensed and regulated by the Virginia Lottery, which would be responsible for ensuring the fairness and safety of all games.
All gambling winnings are subject to both federal and state tax. Virginia automatically withholds 4% of winnings that exceed specific thresholds.
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