Are online casinos legal in Virginia?
Online casinos are one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment. The ability to play casino games from the comfort of home or on a smartphone has made them accessible to all users. However, while the online casino market is thriving, it is illegal to use online casinos in many parts of the country. In Virginia, the situation is complicated if someone asks, “can I visit an online casino?”
Over the last decade, increasing technology allowed online casinos to become more exciting and accessible. Even casual gamers are now enjoying these venues and one little known fact about online casinos is it’s possible to play the games without using money. This means no money changes hands whether the player wins or loses.
Increasingly, casinos are becoming mainstream and online casinos are one of the fastest growing recreational activities. In Virginia, laws surrounding online casinos sit in a middle ground of legality but it is possible for people in the state to play at an online live casino and play games like poker, roulette, and online slots.
When looking at online casino law in Virginia, there are some caveats to consider. Under pure state law, Bill H1584, HB 1700, and S 1195 (introduced in 2011) make it illegal for anyone in the state to play an online casino game. Importantly, this limitation is only for online casinos that are based within the state.
In other words, it is legal to play an offshore or out-of-state online casino. That means you can sign up and play on casinos that are located outside Virginia. Is this a loophole? Maybe, but it is perfectly legal to do so.
Having said that, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) places some restrictions on this activity. This is federal legislation that states it is illegal for financial institutions to process payments that are related to offshore gambling. For example, this means a person in Virginia could sign up and play on a casino but wouldn’t be able to process any finances.
Again, online casinos allow users to play games for free if they want, but for many, the whole point is to place monetary wagers. It is worth pointing out that licensed gaming is starting to come back to the country with states like Nevada and New Jersey leading the way. Virginia seems a long way off before reaching this decision.
New Jersey is amongst a group of states that have eased restrictions around online casinos. Others include Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Nevada has long been viewed as the liberal foothold of the gambling industry in the United States. However, the state does not allow wagering on online casinos.
Sports betting is also becoming increasingly accepted in states, with three dozen now greenlighting its legality. Virginia is not quite there yet, but lawmakers have stated they will begin discussions to open a pathway to sports betting legalization. If sportsbooks are opened in the states, perhaps that would in-turn lead to an eventual cooling of legislature surrounding online casinos.