Are Online Casinos Legal In Virginia?
No, online casinos are not legal in Virginia. State law allows for online and retail sports betting and land-based casinos in a limited number of cities. Virginia law would need to be changed in order for online casinos to be legal in the state.
There is hope that this could change in the coming years if sports betting does well in the state.
The SB 1126 gambling bill was passed in early 2020, paving the way for legalized sports wagering. It also looked at a way for land-based casinos in Virginia to be introduced. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that a revised bill – HB4 – sought to include casino games in the full package. Some Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operators were already live in Virginia.
HB4 passed the Virginia General Assembly in early 2020, with gambling operators and casinos overseen by the Virginia Lottery Board. The first sports betting sites launched in early 2021. Under the law, cities passing certain criteria are able to open a land based casino. The criteria for opening a brick ’n mortar casino in Virginia is:
- Decline in population of 7% or more between 1990 and 2016
- 40% of all real estate is exempt from local property tax
- Poverty rate of 20% or more
- Unemployment rate of 3.6% or more in 2018
Cities needed to hold a public referendum to gauge support for any casino. Four cities already have OK’d a casino (Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, Bristol) with a fifth, Richmond, scheduled to vote on a referendum in November 2021.
Will Virginia Offer Online Casino Bonuses and Promo Codes?
Although online casinos are not currently legal in Virginia, should they become legal, operators will undoubtedly offer a host of bonuses and sign-up promotions for new players. The most common bonuses casino players see in regulated states are:
First-deposit match: The operator matches your first deposit up to a certain dollar amount (and up to 100%). This bonus typically comes with significant playthrough requirements, so be sure to read the terms and conditions.
Free spins: Get a handful of free spins on select online slots; winnings may be subject to a playthrough requirement.
No-deposit bonus: These bonuses are typically a small amount in the neighborhood of $20.
What Games Will Be Available In VA When Online Casinos Are Legalized?
Should online casinos ever become legal in Virginia, the following games would likely be available to players:
- Live dealer
- Other card games such as three-card poker, Caribbean stud poker
Are There Any Land-Based Casinos in Virginia?
Not yet. Under Virginia law, five cities were given the go ahead to hold referendums to see if their residents wanted to OK a land-based casino. Four have held votes and now await construction of a casino while the fifth city (Richmond) will vote later in 2021. Let’s take a closer look at what Virginians could expect to find in the years ahead.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe are proposing to build a casino in Norfolk. The Resort Casino was approved in November 2020 and is set to be built in the middle of the city on the Elizabeth River. The new casino will be the only one in Norfolk built and operated by a recognized Virginia tribe.
About the Norfolk Resort & Casino:
- $500 million casino and leisure complex
- 150 table games
- 3,000 video slots
- 300-room hotel with spa and pool
- Entertainment complex
Fans of the Hard Rock Resort and Casino will be enjoying table games and slots in Bristol now that the major operator has been given the green light. Hard Rock International became the official casino developer of the Bristol resort in December 2020. Owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Hard Rock already operates land-based casinos across the United States. They also have experience in launching online casino gambling sites, putting them ahead of the pack should internet casino sites appear in Virginia.
Rush Street Gaming signed a deal with Portsmouth in November 2020. The operator already runs successful Rivers Casino properties around the United States. We could also see a Rivers online casino in VA launching in due course.
Rivers Casino Portsmouth details:
- $300m casino and entertainment complex
- Conference space and hotel
- Poker room
- BetRivers sportsbook
Caesars Entertainment is first in the line for a casino in the city after a public referendum passed in November 2020. Caesars Virginia is a proposed casino resort to be built in Schoolfield, boasting:
- $400 million gambling and entertainment resort
- Casino with poker room and sportsbook
- 300+ hotel rooms
- 2,500-seat live entertainment venue
- Conference center with 35,000 square feet of space
The city said on April 21 that a panel had narrowed its proposals to two: A $600 million project by the Cordish Cos., and a $517 million proposal by Urban One, which would be the only majority Black-owned casino resort in the country. A bid by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe was rejected along with some others. Should the November 2021 referendum pass, the casino opening is likely to be in late 2022 or early 2023.
Legal Gambling In Virginia
Online casinos in VA may be a few years away – and commercial casinos will still need to be built – but there is other gambling available in Virginia until then.
1973: Charitable gaming like bingo and poker is legalized.
1987: Virginia state lottery is legalized.
2016: Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is legalized.
2018: Historical horse racing betting is legalized.
2019: Live horse racing and pari-mutuel betting returns to Colonial Downs.
2020: SB 1126 is introduced looking to legalize online and mobile sports betting. It also addresses the potential for land-based casinos.
February 2020: Virginia state legislature passes the amended HB4 gaming bill, legalizing commercial casino gambling and sportsbooks. Twelve mobile-only sports betting app providers could launch by the end of 2021.
October 2020: NASCAR signs deal with WynnBet to provide a mobile sportsbook in Virginia.
October 2020: Virginia Lottery opens sports betting application period. Lottery will approve up to 12 operators, and the first sports betting apps are slated to go live in early 2021.
November 2020: The first land-based casino projects are approved.
Why is Online Gambling Becoming So Popular?
Whether you want to bet in Virginia via your smartphone or on your PC, the benefits of online gaming are easy to see:
Bet at Home on Your Mobile Phone
In regulated states with few land-based casinos, online betting is ideal. Play slots or table games at home without opening the front door.
Enjoy Stakes at Your Level
Brick ’n mortar casinos often offer high minimum betting limits. Online casino gambling sites boast lower stake limits that suit recreational players.
Claim a Welcome Bonus
Legal gambling sites in the U.S. market usually offer a welcome bonus to new players. Sign up and make a deposit to claim free bonus funds, free bets or free spins on big-name slots. Virginia players would likely see the same kinds of bonuses.
Join a Loyalty Program
When you join an online casino, you can earn points every time you play. The more you play, the more points you’ll acquire. Points can be redeemed for cash, plus you can enjoy benefits like faster cash-outs and bespoke deals.
It’s important to always gamble responsibly. If you feel like you may have a problem, there are resources and support available to you from the online operator’s site, from the Virginia Lottery and from support groups such as the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline (1-888-532-3500) and the Virginia National Council on Problem Gambling. You can get help and learn 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.
Virginia Online Casinos FAQ
As of 2021, online and mobile sports betting is legal in Virginia. There are no online casinos and no online poker in VA, but with land-bsaed casinos coming, online games could follow.
Virginia has plans to build up to five casinos in cities across the state. Developers such as Hard Rock, Caesars and Rush Street could open casinos by 2023. There are no plans for a first VA online casino.
You will have to aged 21 or over to gamble on sports and physically located within Virginia in order to place bets.
Chet Fussman is a writer for VirginiaIsForBettors.com. Fussman is a former horse racing writer and longtime sports editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. He's a poker and blackjack player and frequent sports bettor, who plans to send the U.S. Supreme Court a thank-you card for clearing the way for states to adopt sports wagering. Fussman's philosophy: Don't let the bad beats overshadow your winning ones.