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Part of our mission is to consistently provide up-to-date Virginia gambling news and developments. We do that both with stories and through social media. As new betting sites launch and new issues and legislation emerge, we will have the latest details for you.
The state has launched online sports betting, and VirginiaIsForBettors.com can be a valuable resource for both beginning and experienced bettors. As the state’s wagering menu continues to expand, bettors can expect additional resources, with the goal to make VirginiaIsForBettors.com the most comprehensive Virginia gambling information site.
We have a team dedicated to covering every aspect of Virginia gambling, with extensive knowledge of the state’s emerging sports betting market and evolving gambling laws. Our team of experts has decades of experience covering sports betting and legislative news, and regularly evaluates and reviews Virginia’s legal gambling sites and apps. We have boots on the ground in Old Dominion and consistently report when new products and sites are introduced.
Virginia Lottery Sports Betting Vendor: 100381
Online sports gambling launched on Jan. 22, 2021, with FanDuel the first to accept bets, joined by DraftKings days later and followed in short order by BetMGM and BetRivers. In-person sports betting won’t be a reality for several years, not until casinos with retail sportsbooks in the state open.
The 2020 gambling bill allowed for up to five cities with casinos. Voters in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth approved a casino referendum in November 2020; Richmond votes in November 2021. It is conceivable that once these casinos are built the state legislature might see the potential revenue from online gaming and pass new legislation.
Unfortunately, there are no plans for online poker in Virginia, but neighboring West Virginia does allow it. If the state legislature reconsiders online casino games, it might also take a look at poker as well.
Additional legal gambling options in the state include Daily Fantasy Sports and the Virginia lottery (including online). Pari-mutuel wagering also is legal on live thoroughbred racing as well as simulcast wagering at Colonial Downs in New Kent. There are several off-track betting facilities in the state and online horse racing using advance deposit wagering platforms (TVG, TwinSpires, etc.).
Virginia is also unique in that it is the first state to include a Sports Bettor Bill of Rights in its legislation. It spells out five areas where sports gamblers receive some protection, both in their dealings with gambling operators and even from themselves. Those areas are: integrity and transparency in wagering; data privacy/security; self-exclusion; protection of the vulnerable (including underaged persons and those susceptible to disordered gambling); and the right to recourse in disputes.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill permitting online and retail sports betting in April 2020, but the process from signed law to first legal sports bet took about eight months as the state had no brick-and-mortar casinos. Online sports betting went live in January 2021, but retail sports betting and retail casino gambling won’t be live until brick-and-mortar casinos are built in the cities that have approved them. There are no plans to allow online casinos or online poker in the near future.
|Daily Fantasy Sports||May 2016|
|Virginia Lottery (online)||2018|
|Retail & online sports betting||April 2020|
|Retail Casinos (up to 5)||April 2020|
|Online Casinos||Not Legal|
|Online Poker||Not Legal|
All of the biggest online sportsbooks and gambling operators are setting up shop in Virginia. The state will allow up to 12 online sports betting sites and received more than two dozen initial applicants. Among the big names taking bets in the state: DraftKings, BetMGM and William Hill .
|Online operator||Launch Date|
|FanDuel||Jan. 22, 2021|
|DraftKings||Jan. 24, 2021|
|BetMGM||Jan. 27, 2021|
|BetRivers||Jan. 27, 2021|
|William Hill||Feb. 2, 2021|
|WynnBet||March 11, 2021|
|Unibet||April 28, 2021|
|Penn National (TBD)||TBD|
Highlights of some of Virginia’s most important gambling laws:
Gambling age: The legal age to wager at a Virginia online sportsbook is 21. If you are 18, you can legally play the lottery, bingo, Daily Fantasy Sports and bet on horse racing.
Online sportsbooks: State law requires the Virginia lottery to select at least four and up to 12 online operators. Additionally, the Washington NFL football team, the two NASCAR tracks and the DC United MLS soccer franchise are also eligible for licenses.
Commercial casinos: State law allowed for a land-based casino in up to five Virginia cities, subject to approval in each locale by voters. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth all voted in favor of the referendum in 2020; Richmond votes in 2021. Construction will take a few years, but state law allows for each to open a retail sportsbook as well. Real money online casino sites are not legal.
Tax Rates: Virginia’s 15% tax on operators puts it in the middle of the pack nationally. You can estimate your winnings after taxes using our gambling winnings tax calculator.
Regulation: The Virginia Lottery is responsible for all regulation and licensing of the state’s commercial casino gaming and sportsbook operations.
Virginia officials were optimistic about potential sports betting interest given the size of the state, the overwhelming sign-ups after the January 2021 launch and the success of online sports betting in other states relative to brick-and-mortar locations. In fact, sports bettors wagered more than $304 million in March 2021, the second full month for Virginia sports betting, on the heels of a $265.8 million sports betting handle in February. In May, just the state's fourth full month of operation, cumulative sports betting handle surpassed $1 billion.
Yes, it is legal to gamble in Virginia. Online and retail sports betting, Daily Fantasy Sports, the lottery, bingo, pari-mutuel and online horse racing betting and a limited number of brick-and-mortar casinos are allowed by law.
You must be 21 or older to gamble on sports in Virginia (or to wager at the casinos once they are built). The minimum age for all other gambling is 18.
For now, you are limited to online gambling for sports wagers. Eventually there will be a handful of land-based casinos and retail sportsbooks. You can also bet on live horse racing at Colonial Downs in New Kent and several OTBs. The lottery and bingo are also widely available.
Yes, you need to be physically in Virginia to place a wager. Operators use geolocation technology as required by regulators to ensure it.
Virginia sportsbooks offer wagering on all major pro sports both in the U.S. and in Europe (such as the English Premier League), as well as NASCAR and other motorsports, MMA, boxing, golf, tennis and cycling. Betting on college sports is allowed with the exception of games involving Virginia-based schools, such as the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. In-game wagering is not allowed on all college sports, nor are college player prop bets.
In addition to sports betting and land-based casinos, other legal gambling in Virginia includes the lottery, wagering on horse racing (in-person and online) and bingo.
You should avoid offshore gambling in Virginia because offshore sportsbooks operate without regulation and can shut down at any time, potentially causing bettors to lose their funds with no recourse.
The Virginia Lottery regulates gambling in Virginia.
Gambling revenue is taxed at 15%, putting Virginia in the middle of the pack among U.S. states with legal sports betting.
Applicants that are selected must pay a $250,000 application fee. According to the Virginia Lottery, the selection process is based on each applicant’s experience and success with sports betting in the U.S. It also takes into consideration their efforts to solicit minority investors and expectations for new jobs and tax revenue. Additionally, Virginia-based professional sports entities (Washington NFL team, DC United of the MLS and NASCAR tracks) are given higher status.
Yes, it is legal to bet on horse racing in Virginia, both in-person and online.
It’s part of our mission to be a resource for gambling education and provide support information to Virginia bettors who may have a gambling problem. We provide contacts for support groups such as the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline (1-888-532-3500) and the Virginia National Council on Problem Gambling, as well as links for ways to help prevent gambling addiction, such as setting deposit and wagering limits and how to self-exclude from wagering for any period of time.
Ron is managing editor of VirginiaIsForBettors.com. He spent nearly 13 years at The Baltimore Sun, including 12 as sports editor. He previously was sports editor at The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, for nearly eight years after serving as a news editor there for four years.