Virginia Legal Poker Sites

Virginia StateVirginia has no casinos and poker rooms, though fortunately for residents there are many live poker options in neighboring States including Maryland and Delaware – with the casinos of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey not too far away for determined poker fans. The only options in this State are social, including bar leagues and home-games. Online poker is assumed to be illegal under the old codes, and there does not seem to be much chance of the government here regulating internet games any time soon.

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This page takes you through the options for enjoying poker games in Virginia in each of the main categories of poker play. First of all, live poker games (or rather the lack of them) are covered. After that you will find information on social poker games – which are the only fully legal way to enjoy poker in VA. Online poker gets discussed next. After that you will find key passages from the Virginia Statutes which relate to poker – along with a summary of the overall situation at the end of the page.

Virginia Live Poker Options

There is not a single casino in this State, either commercial or on tribal lands. This lack of gambling opportunities also means that there are no live poker card-rooms either. To enjoy any live poker action at all Virginian poker fans need to travel to neighboring States. Fortunately the neighbors do offer a range of different options in all directions.

Heading south into North Carolina you’ll find one casino – and a big one at that – in the form of Harrah’s on Cherokee land. There are more casinos over in West Virginia, where the gambling laws are far more progressive. Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware are all within easy reach too.

Are Home Games Legal In Virginia?

You’ll need to stay within the strict rules in VA to hold a legal home game. These are carved out under the current laws. The rules are that nobody can profit from the running of the game – for example by taking a rake from the pots or charging an entrance fee. In addition the game can’t be ‘regular’ – though there is no legal definition of exactly what this means. The intent is to make genuinely social home-games legal, so as long as you keep this in mind your game is unlikely to be busted here.

Freeroll bar poker leagues are popular here, these are not considered gambling as there is no buy-in to the games. Real prizes are awarded, however these are usually small scale – for example a t-shirt or meal voucher.

Virginia Online Poker Games

As you might expect from a State with huge restrictions on gambling activity, online poker is considered to be illegal here under the existing codes. Like almost everywhere in the US, nobody has ever been prosecuted for playing in a real money online poker game – though there are still banking restrictions on deposits which come from Federal laws.

It is not likely that Virginia will be joining any group of States who regulate online poker games for their residents.

Offshore poker sites are open to VA residents, and allow real money play whether the State thinks this activity is illegal or not. These sites are based on Caribbean islands with very lax gambling laws, and are popular with thousands of players from across the US. Bear in mind that you play at your own risk if you do choose to enjoy the games at these cool sites.

What Do The Virginia Gambling Statutes Say?

Even though there are strict laws governing gambling activity including poker in VA, the penalties for merely playing in illegal gambling games are actually very mild. If you organize or profit from running of a gambling game then this State will deal with you much more harshly.

The ‘bet’ or wager is the key factor in deciding whether your activity crosses into the illegal gambling definition. The uncertain outcome wording could be used to argue that poker is a skill game here – though precedents from previous cases show that Virginian courts have already decided that this is not the case.

Here is the key definition of illegal gambling from the VA codes, this is from Chapter 18, 2-325:

…making, placing or receipt, of any bet or wager in this Commonwealth of money or other thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any game, contest or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance…

Virginia Poker – Summing It Up

The only silver lining in an otherwise anti-poker State is the fact that so many surrounding States have great options for poker fans. If you are not travelling then home-games and free tournaments in bar leagues are just about the best you’ll be able to come up with. Online poker is available from offshore sites at your own risk. It is very unlikely that Virginia will be regulating online poker within their State in the foreseeable future.