Virginia has recently made changes to its gambling legislation, making it one of a growing number of states in the US where you can bet online. VA residents have seen an increase in the opportunities to bet safely online as some of the biggest names in the industry have launched gambling sites.
Within a year of the bill to legalize sports betting SB 384 passing, regulations were established and licenses issued so that VA bettors could be protected. Several US operators seized the chance to take bets in the state and launched online operations. Every review featured on this site covers licensed gaming sites that are 100% legal and safe.
Let’s start by exploring which gambling activities are legal in Virginia and why a legitimate online site should be a priority. Then, you will discover which operators are licensed, how to recognize them, and what to expect when betting in the Mother of States.
Types of Legal Online Gambling in Virginia
Online activities in the state date back to 2016, when Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) were legalized, and more options arrived in 2021 with online sports betting.
Virginia online sports betting became legal in July 2020 after the bill passed through in April and the first sites launched in January 2021. There isn’t much of a gambling history in VA, and the state has chosen a slightly different route than others that already have legal sports betting. Instead of creating a new regulatory body, activity is overseen by the Lottery Board.
- Big first bet insurance
- Best promotions
- Great mobile app
- Player-friendly wagering
- Community competitions
- Great sports coverage
- Solid welcome offer
- Good odds boosts
- Quality betting app
- Famous brand
- Quality mobile app
- Variety of betting options
It is not necessary for an operator to have a land-based partner, which is not surprising as in-person sports betting was legalized at the same time as the online version, and there were no land-based casinos at that time. Sportsbooks can partner with professional sports venues, and the casinos that are currently being built will have the opportunity to apply for one of the 12 licenses.
The law permits up to 12 standalone licenses, and at least four need to be issued, although those given to sports franchises do not contribute to the minimum or maximum. There are also licenses for retail sportsbooks. Up to 19 licenses in total could be issued.
At present, there are no retail locations. However, several online operators have launched since January 2021:
- Bally Bet Sportsbook
- bet365 Sportsbook
- Betfred Sportsbook
- Barstool Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- BetRivers Sportsbook
- Betway Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Hard Rock Sportsbook
- PointsBet Sportsbook (* future Fanatics Sportsbook)
- SI Sportsbook
- Unibet Sportsbook
- WynnBET Sportsbook
Golden Nugget holds a license for online sports betting but has not yet launched.
Virginia online casino gambling is not legal. It was not included in the April 2020 bill. The state is introducing several changes with online sports betting, plus retail sportsbooks and the potential for five land-based casinos. The current law specifically mentions internet gambling on games of chance and deems it illegal. There are penalties for running an operation and for participating in interstate gambling.
The five locations for land-based casinos are being explored with Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond being the likely sites. If online casinos are to be introduced, it will likely only occur after the current changes have had a chance to get established.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports or DFS was often an online gambling gray area, but Virginia formally made it possible in 2016 through the Fantasy Contests Act. It was one of the first states to do so, and there are four major operators in the state, which are:
- DraftKings DFS
- FanDuel DFS
- Fantasy Draft
- Yahoo Fantasy
As with online casinos, online poker is not legal in Virginia. There have been several efforts to get the game recognized as one of skill rather than chance. It could be the first step toward a bill that legalizes online poker, as the law specifically focuses on internet gambling and games of chance. However, at present, all efforts have been unsuccessful.
Why Choose a Legal Virginia Online Gaming Site?
There is one primary reason for choosing a legal online gambling site in Virginia and several secondary reasons. As interstate gambling is illegal, accessing casinos or other sites that do not have a Virginia license is against the law. You could be found guilty of this misdemeanor and fined. A legal site means you are acting within the law, and it comes with several other benefits.
The Virginia Lottery Board not only licenses the sites but sets regulations. These rules include wording that requires fair policies and procedures. It covers several areas of customer protection, such as preventing underage betting and being transparent regarding the terms and conditions for bonuses and promotions. The regulations also set standards for the appropriate measures to protect your financial and personal information.
A sports betting site that meets the Lottery Board standards will protect players in other ways, such as responsible gambling. There are measures to keep activities fun, such as setting betting limits restricting the amount of money deposited or the time spent wagering on the site. Self-exclusion also has to be an option to address problem gambling.
There are also other benefits that legal sites bring to the community. In Virginia, legitimate operators pay a 15% tax on adjusted gross revenue in the state and create jobs for local people. Gambling tax often goes to local and state general funds to be used on projects, such as problem gambling support programs, schools, and law enforcement.
How to Know If a Virginia Online Gambling Site Is Legal, Regulated, and Safe
If you are in Virginia and want to know if the online sportsbook that you have found is a legal and regulated operation, look for the following signs:
- Gaming Regulator Seal: Any legal sportsbook will be transparent about its license. In Virginia, that means a statement or official seal of the Virginia Lottery Board. Usually, you can find that in the footer of its website. You might find it in the form of an official seal or some text that specifies what services they can provide.
- Legal Jurisdiction: Allowing bets from anywhere other than Virginia is against the law, so a legitimate operator will want to know where you are located when placing a bet. It will state that it legally operates within the Commonwealth of Virginia. When signing up or logging in, it will ask you to select from a list of states where it operates and give you a dropdown menu to select a state. Geolocation technology is used to pinpoint your location and you must be physically located in the state to make wagers.
- Recognizable Name: The safe and legal sportsbooks have proven that they are trustworthy and earned their reputations. Licenses are normally awarded to operators with an established track record, which means you will recognize their names. If you have not heard of a company, check for a review or article on this site. If you do not find one, the site could be an illegal one.
- Customer Service: Legal sportsbooks and DFS sites in Virginia are here to stay, which means looking after their customers so that they keep coming back. One of the best ways to make customers happy and resolve issues is to provide effective customer service. Most sites will have a help center, live chat, email support, and phone support.
- Rewards Program: Another way for legitimate operators to run a successful business in the state is to recognize and reward customer loyalty with programs that provide perks and special offers. Illegal and unregulated sites do not have this feature as they could be shut down, so longevity is not guaranteed.
- Headquartered in the US: As well as being well-known names, when you look into the companies behind Virginia sportsbooks and DFS sites, you will find that they have offices in the US. In contrast, illegal sites operate from an offshore location.
Important Information When Choosing an Online Gambling Site in Virginia
Although the top requirement for an online gambling site in Virginia is to be 100% legal and safe, there are other criteria that can help you to choose between the licensed operators. As well as providing entertainment through a range of sports bets, you should expect value and usability. These five qualities all contribute to an excellent experience:
Virginia Online Gambling Welcome Bonuses
A welcome bonus is a chance for the operator to offer its customers value. Starting your betting experience with something extra in your bankroll allows you to explore the gaming site and have fun. Virginia welcome packages might include a deposit match, bet insurance, or a free bet. The bonuses can be claimed through promotion codes entered when signing up or depositing or triggered by placing your first bet. However, not all welcome offers have bonus codes.
The best bonuses help you enjoy the site without having to avoid or find specific bets to fit the terms. Wagering requirements that are attainable and without too many restrictions are just as important as the bonus amount. If an operator wants your business, this is one area where they cannot let you down.
Sports Betting Promotions in Virginia
Promotions are another way for sportsbooks and DFS sites to provide value. The most attractive sites have a regularly updated promotions page with offers tailored to your preferences. Most offers relate to specific sports or events and change often.
Virginia sportsbooks worth your time have the full range of promotions. They include parlay insurance, free bets, betting tournaments and leaderboards, cashback, and offers focused on specific events. To find out more, you can look at our review pages and visit a few operators’ dedicated promotions pages.
Rewards for Virginia Customers
Bonuses and promotions are not only for new customers. A Virginia operator that recognizes the value of customers that keep using their account and betting is one worth your attention. Most established brands offer rewards. These loyalty programs are a fantastic way to get more from your chosen sportsbook.
While the details might differ, most of the schemes work based on your activity. At its simplest form, you bet, and you earn points. The points are counted and set your level, which entitles you to benefits. In some cases, you redeem points for bonuses and prizes. The more loyal you are, the more perks you receive.
Virginia Mobile Access
For the most thorough access, you should not be restricted to using your sportsbook account from your desktop. The best betting sites have mobile versions or apps to give you sports action on your smartphone or mobile device. Not only that, but you should have the same payment options, bets, and offers available to you.
As you are working on a smaller screen, the app needs to be optimized so that scrolling and tapping to bet are quick and easy. Additionally, moving between your account, rewards, and the help center should run as smoothly as the desktop version. Intuitive and attractive design is a top requirement.
Sports Markets and Navigation
The core content of the sportsbook site is betting. For a Virginia sportsbook to stand out, it needs to have a range of sports and markets. The bet types need to be varied, so you can choose to bet on the winner, the total score, as well as prop bets and overall winners of leagues and tournaments.
Being able to find the different aspects of the site is essential. Menus and clear labels mean navigation is straightforward, and no time is lost searching for a particular sport or bet. You should expect to find an in-play section with live odds, games, animations, and statistics helping you to follow an event and bet while it unfolds.
Gaming Regulator Information
The Virginia Lottery Board grants licenses and regulates operations in the state. A site has to cooperate with them and follow their rules to accept bets from people in Virginia. A license from them is also a sign that the sportsbook has paid a fee, declares and pays its taxes, and adheres to proper standards.
The Virginia Lottery has been operating for more than 30 years. Its main experience is through the lottery programs and revenue that contributes to community projects. It has now expanded to oversee in-person and online gambling. It sets standards for operators, including appropriate marketing and transparent bonus terms. As a regulator, it ensures that integrity monitoring occurs, customer data is protected, and that rules for betting are established.
The Virginia Lottery has a mediation service if customers have issues with operators. Sportsbooks should be approached in the first instance to resolve a problem. However, you can also file a complaint through a form on the regulator’s website with the sportsbook and employee names, a description of what happened, and any supporting evidence. The service can be accessed anonymously.
History of Online Gambling Legislation
There have been three key bills in the recent gambling legislation history of Virginia. One was the Fantasy Contests Act from 2016, which made the activity formal and legal, a crucial point for customer protection. Following that, in 2020, HB 4 passed, making it possible for five land-based casinos to be built in the state. Also in 2020, SB 384 passed, which made online and in-person sports betting legal.
Although the state has a long history, gambling has not been a key feature. The laws are quite clear about which activities are permitted or not. They state that internet gambling on games of chance is illegal but make allowances for several types of wagering.
The lottery was authorized by public vote in 1987. It has proved incredibly popular, and lottery sales have been rising ever since implementation. A significant portion of the funds go towards education in the state. Not long after the lottery was introduced, pari mutuel horse race betting was legalized, and Colonial Downs racetrack was granted a license.
It closed in 2014, but efforts were made to reopen it with different features and races throughout the week. Online betting for horse racing is possible and is overseen by the Virginia Racing Commission.
Responsible Gaming Resources in Virginia
The state, the Virginia Lottery, and the licensed operators share the responsibility of ensuring tools and support is put in place to keep gaming fun and not harmful to customers. Responsible gaming covers many aspects, including:
- Preventing minors from accessing betting by setting an age limit of 21 or over.
- Providing tools for users to limit the money or time spent gambling.
- Putting the user in control through alerts and timeouts that help them avoid or recognize potentially detrimental behavior.
- Establishing operator and state-wide exclusion lists in cooperation with the Virginia Racing Commission. They allow users to prevent themselves from accessing online and land-based gaming.
- Directing revenue to community projects, such as education, problem gambling services, and law enforcement funding.
- Setting and upholding standards for customer finances and data.
Setting Gambling Limits
Customer tools are one of the most effective ways to keep gambling casual and fun and to help people establish and stick to financial limits. Most Virginia operators provide a list of self-regulation services, including:
- Deposit Limits: A tool where you can set a cap for the amount you are able to deposit at any one time and over a certain period.
- Betting Limits: This tool specifically looks at how much you wager and gives you the option to set a maximum.
- Alerts: Pop-up notifications are an option to let you know how long you have been betting. They act as a reminder to stop or take a break.
- Time restrictions: These limits look at how much time you spend on the site, allowing you to set a maximum.
- Self-Exclusions: Operators have exclusion lists that could be for a temporary cool-off for players or could prevent access to the site for longer periods, such as one month to five years. There’s also a voluntary state list, which covers all operators in the state.
The Virginia Lottery recognizes that gambling can be addictive. It works with the operators it licenses to help people understand when they have a problem and provide them with the support and resources to deal with it.
The list of signs of problem gambling is just the start. The Virginia Lottery and sportsbooks provide the contact details of different support organizations, including:
- Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline: The state runs a resource that provides confidential help through messages and phone calls via 1-888-532-3500.
- Virginia Council on Problem Gambling: A non-profit organization that aims to increase awareness, conduct research, and ensure access to treatment.
- NCPG: The National Council on Problem Gambling provides support through its website and hotline 1-800-522-4700.
- GA: Gamblers Anonymous operates across the US. You can check the website to find advice and local meetings in Virginia.
- Self-exclusion: The Virginia Lottery has self-exclusion lists for gambling in the state. You can add yourself to the database by voluntarily filling out a form. Self-exclusion lasts two or five years, or for life.
Land-based Gambling Available in Virginia
Land-based gaming does not exist in Virginia yet. The bills that passed in 2020 allow for retail sportsbooks and in-person casinos. However, it will take some time for these to be built and become established. It puts Virginia in a unique position to develop online operations first.
Sites for the casinos have been chosen. The first four are likely to be in Norfolk, Danville, Bristol, and Portsmouth, as each city voted yes to a casino during the 2020 election. Richmond will have the same voting opportunity in 2021, so it could be the fifth site. It is anticipated that the land-based casinos will also feature retail sportsbooks. If we are to see in-person betting before the casinos are built, it could be at a professional sports venue, which can also get retail licenses.
Is online gambling legal in Virginia?
Yes. Online gambling is legal in Virginia. However, it is only for sportsbooks and daily fantasy sports at present.
What types of online gambling are legal in Virginia?
In Virginia, you can take part in daily fantasy sports and bet on sports online. Games of chance, including casino titles and poker, are not legal.
Can I use my Virginia online gaming accounts in other states?
Yes. You can access your Virginia account from other states to deposit and withdraw, but you cannot place a bet. If your sportsbook legally operates in another state, you might be able to use the same account to bet in that location.
I’m traveling to Virginia. Can I set up my account before I arrive?
Yes. It’s possible to create an account with a Virginia sportsbook or DFS site without being in the state. In fact, getting a head start before you travel is recommended to save you time. As you need to fill out forms and confirm your identity, you can do that in advance and get straight to betting when you arrive in VA. Plus, it avoids the stress of trying to find your personal information and documents to verify your account while on the move.
Once you arrive in Virginia, you will be ready to deposit, trigger a bonus, and place a bet. Our guides on how to sign up can help you with the process.
Can I play at Virginia online gambling sites if I am just visiting the state?
Yes. It is not mandatory to be a state resident to sign up and bet at a sportsbook or use a DFS site. However, you do physically need to be within the state borders in order to make wagers at the site.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Virginia?
Access to online gambling sites is permitted to those who are 21 years old or above. You need to confirm this by actively ticking a declaration box, filling out your date of birth, and you will also verify your identity with personal information, such as the last four digits of your Social Security number and mailing address.