Online Gambling Virginia: Top VA Online Casinos

Virginia, or the Commonwealth of Virginia to give the state its full, official title, is a state steeped in history. Its population of 8,654,542 ranks Virginia as the 12th most populous state. Many of those 8.6 million Virginians love nothing more than to bet on sports, gamble at the casino, and play poker. The question is: can they enjoy those activities legally and safely from the comfort of their homes?

Virginia online casino gambling exists. Betting sites accept Virginia players, but those sites are offshore operations. Players get paid at the whim of the online casino. Though they likely won't be prosecuted, it isn't safe. We recommend Virginia residents avoid online casinos until the Commonwealth's leaders approve legal and licensed online casinos. 

Legal Online Gambling in Virginia

Virginia is one of the last states not to have a brick-and-mortar within its borders. That fact is set to change as early as July 2022, but we will cover that shortly.

  • Virginia Gambling Laws: Gambling laws in Virginia were very restrictive, with legal forms of gambling limited to the state lottery and betting on horse racing in licensed venues.
  • Virginia Daily Fantasy Sports: Virginia DFS is also permitted. Virginia was the first state to formally legalize daily fantasy sports in 2016.
  • Computers as Gambling Devices: The law does not specifically mention online gambling in Virginia, although 18.2-325 of the Virginia Code loosely considers computers as gambling devices, which are prohibited in the state.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor: Section 18.2-365 states people engaging in interstate gambling can be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, yet there are no records of the state fining any Virginians. This is mainly because law enforcement focuses on the operators and not the customers.
  • Virginia Online Casinos: With no legalized online casinos currently operating in Virginia, thousands of Virginians try their luck at offshore online casinos or sweepstakes casinos.
  • No Legal Protections: The term "offshore" means the casino is located outside of the United States and, therefore, does not come under the jurisdiction of any of the 50 states, nor are they answerable to any restrictive rules and regulations. 
  • Virginia Online Sportsbooks: Since January 2021, more than a dozen online sports betting sites have gone live in Virginia. These are an expansion of the land-based sportsbooks. Many consider legalization a response to similar sports betting expansion in nearby states and the District of Columbia. 
  • Virginia Land-Based Casinos: In addition, five cities were approved as locations to build casino resorts. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth had the building of a casino approved by their local voters, though the city of Richmond rejected the proposal. With internet sportsbooks now permitted, legal online casinos in Virginia cannot be far behind.
  • Legal Gambling Age in Virginia: The legal gambling age in Virginia is 18-years-old, although those registering for online sports betting accounts must be aged 21 or over.

Sweepstakes Casinos

Sweepstakes casinos are both widespread and popular forms of online casinos that are legal in almost all of the 50 states, including Virginia. They are strikingly similar to traditional online casinos in that you can win real money. However, they make this possible by using what the industry calls a double currency system.

Most sweepstakes casinos use Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins to operate their online slots and, sometimes, table games such as online blackjack and online roulette. Gold Coins are essentially "play money" and, as such, have no monetary value. You receive a bunch of Gold Coins when you sign up for a sweepstakes casino, and you can purchase more if you wish.

Sweeps Coins are the key to sweepstakes casinos. These Sweeps Coins work the same way as the aforementioned Gold Coins, except players can redeem them for cash prizes. You usually receive Sweeps Coins when purchasing Gold Coins. Conveniently, the bonus Sweeps Coins you receive are redeemable for the same amount of money you spend acquiring them!

Sweepstakes casinos are 100% legal for two stand-out factors. First, Sweeps Coins are not technically a currency, even though they are redeemable for U.S. dollars. In addition, you do not buy Sweep Coins because they are gifted to you for purchasing Gold Coins. Second, it is possible to send a request to the sweepstakes casino and request some free Sweeps Coins. The company will respond and give you a small amount of them, covering the "no purchase necessary" aspect of sweepstakes laws. As a result, playing at a sweepstakes casino is not considered online gambling in Virginia.

Some see sweepstakes casinos as circumnavigating gambling laws, but they are 100% legal and permitted across America.

Other Forms of Legal Gambling in Virginia

Virginia has a long history with gambling despite what its prohibitive laws suggest. A look at the Virginia lottery shows the Commonwealth's ambivalence towards gambling.

  • 17th Century Virginia Lottery: Virginia had the first state-run lottery in the United States all the way back in 1612. Funds raised from the lottery helped fund churches and libraries, in addition to the College of William and the University of Virginia.
  • 19th Century Gambling Ban: However, the Virginia Legislature banned all forms of gambling in 1849.
  • 19th Century Virginia Lottery: Voters changed the law in 1987, and the government-run lottery returned.
  • Online Lottery Tickets: Until July 2020, lottery players in Virginia had to purchase tickets from a licensed vendor, but online sales are now permitted. This includes buying Powerball tickets online plus digital scratch cards.
  • Virginia Sports Betting: Sports betting is another legalized gambling activity in Virginia. More than a dozen sports betting operators offer their services to Virginia residents.
  • Virginia Pari-Mutuel Wagering: Horse racing is particularly popular with Virginians. Bets had to be physically placed until January 2021, when online wagering became legal and went live.
  • Virginia Daily Fantasy Sports: Playing Daily Fantasy Sports is a popular pastime for Virginians and one that is both legal and regulated within the state's boundaries. Virginia was, surprisingly, the first state to legalize DFS, so long as the companies paid a $50,000 annual license fee, blocked under 18s from playing, and banned employees from entering public contests.

History of Legal Online Gambling in Virginia

Virginia's gambling ban came crashing down in early 2020 when the state passed the SB 1126 gambling bill.

  • 2020 Sports Betting Law: The bill paved the way for legalized sports betting within the state, including online wagering. A revised bill, HB4, included casino games and land-based casinos; it passed in 2020.
  • Virginia Legal Sportsbooks: Online sports wagering went live in January 2021, and a raft of companies jumped into the action in an attempt to get a foothold in Virginia. With a population of 8.6 million, Virginia is large enough for the major sports betting companies to want in on the action.
  • Updates to Virginia Lottery Law: The Virginia Lottery regulates the gaming companies licensed in Virginia and publishes monthly figures regarding those companies. From January 2021, when online gambling launched in the state, to February 2022, Virginians wagered almost $4.11 billion.
  • Virginia Gambling Tax Revenues: The operators enjoyed $352.4 million in revenue once they'd paid out winning bets, while the state received over $24.6 million in tax revenue; online gambling in Virginia is taxed at 15%. Tax revenues will only increase for the Commonwealth of Virginia when its first-ever land-based casinos open.
  • VA Land-Based Casinos: The cities of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth are all in the process of building land-based casinos.
  • VA Online Gambling Sites: Perhaps once these are up and running, online casino operators will join forces with them and allow Virginians to play casino games legally in a regulated environment, much like some other states have.

Top Virginia Land-Based Casinos

BristolHard Rock Casino Bristol
DanvilleSportsbook Virginia
NorfolkHeadWaters Resort & Casino
PortsmouthRivers Casino Portsmouth

Virginia's Brick-and-Mortar Casino Industry

Land-based casinos were outlawed in Virginia as recently as 2020 when a revised gambling bill opened the door for referendums to begin their construction. Virginia granted five cities the authorization to build a casino, although only four of those cities voted in favor of their construction.

  • Sportsbook Virginia Casino: Danville, located just north of Piedmont Triad, is one location where a land-based casino will eventually open in Virginia. Gambling giant Sportsbook Entertainment is the company tasked with Danville's casino. It will be a 300-room hotel and casino and is estimated to come with a $500 million cost. Sportsbook Virginia comes with 1,400 slots, 75 table games, a sportsbook, a World Series of Poker-branded poker room, and a 2,500-seat entertainment venue. It is expected to open sometime in 2024.
  • Hard Rock Casino Bristol: Hard Rock International is dedicating $400 million to its Hard Rock Bristol project, which pays tribute to Bristol's rich bluegrass and country music history. Once open at 500 Gate City Highway, which is expected in late 2022 or early 2023, Hard Rock Bristol visitors will enjoy a 100,000-square-foot casino, a sportsbook, and a 350-room hotel with plans to expand to 700 rooms, restaurants, bars, a spa, and a 50,000-square-foot conference center.
  • HeadWaters Resorts & Casino: After gaining Federal recognition in 2016, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe will become the first Native American tribe to operate a casino in Virginia. The tribe signed two construction companies to a $500 million contract in February 2022, but the ground has not yet been broken. Once built, which is expected to take two years, the HeadWaters Resort & Casino will look fantastic.
  • The Pamunkey Tribe: The Pamunkey Tribe is hopeful of Sportsbook a temporary casino while construction takes place, although the official ground-breaking ceremony is not expected until the summer of 2022.
  • Rivers Casino Portsmouth: Last but not least is the Rivers Casino Portsmouth, which will be operated by Rush Street, a Chicago-based gaming company that currently operates casinos in Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania.
  • Rush Street Gaming: Rush Street is investing at least $300 million into the project, which will be found at I-264 and Victory Boulevard next to the Tidewater Community College. Rivers Casino Portsmouth will boast a four-star hotel and have numerous facilities spread across its 400,000-square-foot footprint. Construction began in December 2021 and should complete in early 2023.

Online Gambling Virginia FAQ

Can you gamble online in Virginia?

You can gamble online in Virginia in numerous ways, such as sports betting or playing at a sweepstakes casino. Virginia started to revise its gambling laws in early 2020, and while not all forms of online gambling are legal in the state as of yet, it is likely simply a matter of time.

Is online gambing legal in VA?

Online gambling in Virginia is legal for certain forms of gambling. It depends on what you are trying to do. Online sports betting, horse betting, and lottery are all legal and licensed.

Sweepstakes casinos exist, but they aren't licensed. Offshore online casinos are not technically legal. Players at these sites don't have the legal protections they would at licensed Virginia online gambling sites. 

Can you play blackjack online for real money in Virginia?

The only way you can play blackjack online for real money in Virginia at the moment would be at an offshore casino. Offshore casino sites aren't based in the US and don't need to follow individual state rules around online gambling.

Virginia currently does not designate playing at an online casino as a legal activity. Players can play without being prosecuted, but such gambling isn't safe. Your payouts are subject to the site's terms and conditions, so you might never get paid. 

Back to Top