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Online Poker in Virgina? YES, Real Money Play is Legal in 2020!

Poker Over the Internet in VA

Those who make Virginia their home might live in a state that is not friendly toward gambling with many stiff laws in place to discourage participation, but luckily, online poker in Virginia is not nearly as affected by these laws. Offshore sites have decided to still offer games to those in Virginia, and the choices for those players are numerous and great in nature.

It's critical to be aware that there are no federal laws that criminalize playing online poker. The Wire Act, UIGEA, and other statutes that the feds allege make real money internet gaming illegal only target the operators of the sites, not regular players, and it's not exactly clear that they apply to poker at all anyway.

So even though players won’t be getting regulated Virginia online poker any time soon, they can enjoy US-facing, real-money poker goodness no matter what their favorite games are and no matter what their state and the federal government think of the game! Below is a list of all the great sites that offer games to the state of Virginia!


VISIT THE SITE WITH THE:

 

Online Poker Sites Available in Virginia

It's the work of hours or days to investigate the various Virginia online poker entities out there to determine which are on the up-and-up and which are best avoided. You don't need to engage in this thankless task, however, because we've already done it for you. All the rooms in our list below are trustworthy, and they all pay out winnings fairly. No matter which one you choose, you'll appreciate the error-free software and professional customer service.

Ignition Casino Logo

IGNITION CASINO
Busiest Site


Ignition appeals to Virginians because it has the most poker room traffic of any site available to them and thus the most games running simultaneously. These consist of micro-stakes, $0.02/$0.05, up to high-stakes games with blinds of $10/$20. You can try your hand at NL Hold'em, PL Omaha, and Limit Hold'em cash games, including fast-fold Zone Poker, and there's a full lineup of SNGs and lottery-style Jackpots too. The tournament scene is hopping here with a weekly $150,000 Guaranteed MTT and recurring series that hand out millions in prize money.

Ignition is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, so you can play on whatever machine you possess. Upon making your first deposit, you will receive a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus (150% up to $1,500 with Bitcoin) as well as a matching casino bonus too.

Sportsbetting.ag Logo

SB POKER
Big Bad Beat Jackpot


SB Poker has games as high as $5/$10 in NLHE, PLO, and PLO/8, and there's a small range of stakes for 6+ Hold'em and a couple of other niche formats. At certain Hold'em tables, you could win a six-figure Bad Beat Jackpot prize! The poker lineup also contains fast-fold poker, lottery Windfall contests, normal Sit-N-Goes, and a growing selection of tournaments. Reload bonuses and other time-limited promos beckon from time to time.

Sportsbetting.ag Poker runs just fine on PCs, Macs, and mobile systems. New players get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus, and there are other offers for the attached casino and sportsbook.

Bovada Logo

BOVADA
Sports + Poker + Casino


Bovada.lv is a sister site of Ignition, and so it benefits from the same high level of poker traffic and has access to the same poker tables. What makes Bovada different, though, is that it has a sportsbook, which Ignition lacks. Here, you can bet on contests for some of the most popular leagues in the world, like NFL, MLB, NBA, and EPL. The sportsbook also carries eSports matches and a few political and novelty betting markets.

Bovada has downloadable client software for Mac and Windows along with a web-based interface that works with phones and tablets. The standard poker bonus is 100% up to $500, and there's also $3,000 to claim in the casino and another $250 for sports. Bigger bonuses await bitcoiners.

Logo of Intertops.eu

INTERTOPS
Lucrative Promotions


Intertops is fairly small compared with our other recommended sites, but it compensates for this with a robust promotional schedule. You'll get 36% rakeback when you sign up through our links and will be able to supplement this with a welcome bonus, weekly rake races, a loyalty tiers system, freerolls, and casino + sports promos.

The standard Intertops poker client only runs on Windows systems, but Instant Play functionality over the web means that you can access the games from mobiles and Macs as well. Upon making your first deposit, you'll get a 200% up to $1,000 bonus.

Americas Cardroom Logo

AMERICAS CARDROOM
Free Bankroll


Americas Cardroom's claim to fame is as the home of the largest tournaments available to U.S. players. The recurring Venom event guarantees no less than an amazing $5 million, and there are also frequent tournament series that often feature $1 million tournaments. Of course, you also have a full plethora of ring games, including fast-fold Blitz, sit n' gos, and lottery poker products to choose from. Leaderboards reward the top cash and SNG grinders every week.

Americas Cardroom supports Windows and Mac, and a mobile client exists although with only a few poker formats present. Use the exclusive ACR bonus code PRB10FREE to redeem a $10 no deposit bonus. You will still be able to claim the 100% up to $1,000 initial deposit bonus (which grows to 200% up to $1,000 for crypto-currency depositors).


How to Choose the Right Virginia Poker Site

Although all of the sites discussed above are top-notch operators, one or a couple of them may be better for you personally than the others. You'll have to make a choice based upon your own playing habits and what you are specifically looking for in a poker room. It's beyond our purview to tell you where to play for real money, but we can give you guidance on some of the important matters to think about before making your final decision.

► If you intend to grab the largest bonus available, then you'll be happy with Ignition's 150% up to $1,500 for initial Bitcoin deposits.


► If you believe that player liquidity is a critical measurement, then Ignition, Bovada, and Americas Cardroom have the sizable traffic levels you seek.


► If a fully fleshed out rewards program is what you're after, then ACR's Elite Benefits and Intertops' Loyalty Levels will deliver ongoing perks.


► If you're planning to take advantage of reload bonuses, then Americas Cardroom and Intertops have more of them than anywhere else.


► If you want to try a type of poker that's off the beaten path, then Ignition, Bovada, SB Poker, and ACR have fast-fold cash games and lottery-inspired SNG contests.


► If you wish to receive regular rakeback payments, then take a look at Intertops' 36% offer and ACR's 27%.


► If you're looking to play from your mobile, then Ignition, SB Poker, and Bovada have the best poker apps on the market.

Payout Report

Brown Money Bag

There are several processors supported for putting money onto these sites and receiving your payouts. Checks, money transfer services, and credit cards are just a few. You may do better by using Bitcoin than any of the more old-school methods because it has low fees and speedy results. All of the sites we advise you to join support this digital cryptocurrency. If you're a BTC novice, and you're not exactly sure how it works, then we have a thorough guide to getting started in Bitcoin that you might wish to browse through.

Virginia Online Poker Law

Legal Book

The Commonwealth of Virginia takes a strict stance against most types of gambling, and this is reflected in its laws. The relevant provisions are contained in Title 18.2, Crimes and Offenses Generally, Chapter 8, Crimes Involving Morals and Decency. Looking at the definitions contained in § 18.2-325, we see:

1. "Illegal gambling" means the making, placing or receipt of any bet or wager in the 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, whether such game, contest or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth.

This wording is quite sweeping and seems to include poker along with many other forms of activity. However, there is an exemption for skill games in § 18.2-333:

Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent any contest of speed or skill between men, animals, fowl or vehicles, where participants may receive prizes or different percentages of a purse, stake or premium dependent upon whether they win or lose or dependent upon their position or score at the end of such contest.

This opens up the whole skill vs. luck in poker debate. The stipulations about receiving different percentages of a purse based on participants' finishing positions seem especially applicable to tournament poker specifically. There have actually been a few Virginia court cases that relate to this subject.

In 2010, the authorities in Portsmouth started closing down poker halls, claiming that Texas Hold'em was prohibited by law. One of the owners of a hall that had not yet been targeted, Charles Daniels, went to court to have the issue of whether or not poker was considered a skill game decided. 2004 WSOP Main Event champ Grey Raymer actually testified on Daniels' behalf. A lower court rejected his claims, but then the case went to the state's Supreme Court. The court threw the case out, saying that Daniels didn't have standing because his establishment had not had charges filed against it, so it was inappropriate for the court to make a ruling. In 2012, a restaurant owner named George Pitsilides was charged with felony gambling offenses for running poker games, and he initially expressed his belief that poker was a game of skill and thus permitted under § 18.2-333. However, he eventually accepted a plea deal so as to not be caught up in lengthy courtroom proceedings, and so there was no ruling on the legality of poker in this case either.

While hopes were raised in both of these instances that the judiciary would decide in favor of poker being a contest of skill, there was ultimately no resolution on this point. Courts in other areas of the United States have weighed in on this subject, like when Federal Judge Jack Weinstein decided that poker was a game of skill. We don't know how Virginia's judges would make up their minds on this matter if they had to, but they might be swayed by Weinstein's reasoning and therefore conclude that poker is more skill than luck.

Anyway, back to Virginia law and the penalties for illegal gambling, which are listed in § 18.2-326:

Except as otherwise provided in this article, any person who illegally gambles or engages in interstate gambling as defined in § 18.2-325 shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. If an association or pool of persons illegally gamble, each person therein shall be guilty of illegal gambling.

Class 3 misdemeanors subject the guilty party to a fine of up to $500, and there's no jail time involved. Even in the unlikely event that online poker is illegal, and you're arrested, charged, and convicted for playing it, the maximum liability you face is $500, which is a pretty minor punishment all things considered. This law is never enforced against individual players engaging in card games over the internet. Its main function is to allow officers to go after illicit brick-and-mortar gambling rings and facilities. As far as the realities on the ground go, you're completely in the clear partaking in online poker in your own house.

§ 18.2-326 goes on to state that those who gamble on horse races without going through the properly licensed channels in Virginia are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and face stiffer punishments: fines as high as $2,500 and/or incarceration for as long as a year.

Private home games appear to be OK under §18.2-334 as long as nobody is acting as an “operator,” which is “any person, firm or association of persons, who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs or owns all or part of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation.”:

Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in a game of chance conducted in a private residence, provided such private residence is not commonly used for such games of chance and there is no operator as defined in subsection 4 of § 18.2-325.

Interestingly, the Old Dominion has a specific charge dealing with cheating, § 18.2-327 - Winning by fraud:

If any person while gambling cheats or by fraudulent means wins or acquires for himself or another money or any other valuable thing, he shall be fined not less than five nor more than ten times the value of such winnings. This penalty shall be in addition to any other penalty imposed under this article.

People who actually oversee unauthorized real money gaming can face felony convictions, fines of up to $20,000, and sentences of up to 10 years. Other infractions, with lesser penalties, including possession of a gambling device, owning a gambling place, and being an accessory to an illegal gambling enterprise. None of these punishments seem to have deterred offshore sites from the VA market because almost all of them that accept customers from other states also operate in Virginia too. There are additional parts of the law that regulate charitable gambling, horse racing, the state lottery, and daily fantasy sports.

Virginia Gambling History

Outline of Horse and Jockey

The first permanent English colony founded in the New World was Jamestown in 1607, and from the start, its residents enjoyed gaming for money. The pastime is mentioned in laws dating back to the 1610s. At first, these were just small games played with dice and cards, but later on, as Virginia increased in prosperity, betting on horse races became popular. The latter part of the 1600s saw rich planters, who aspired to become a sort of landed aristocracy, engage in horse racing as a means of competition and a display of social status. Usually, one competitor would challenge the other, and they would agree upon an amount to wager. The races were held publicly, not only to allow spectators to place their own side wagers on the results but also to provide witnesses in the event of any disputes. In some cases, all the rules were spelled out elaborately in documents and agreed to by both parties. A surprisingly high number of horse races ended in lawsuits, and so the presence of witnesses and accurate records helped the courts determine what actually happened.

Lottery Ticket from the Mountain Road LotteryTicket From the Mountain Road Lottery
Signed by George Washington

The other main focus of early Virginian gambling was the lottery. As early as 1612, in fact, King James I authorized a lottery to raise funds for the struggling Jamestown settlement. While this one was held in England, Virginia quickly became capable of hosting its own lotteries. They were used for public improvements especially for educational institutions. Not only did the public authorities use them to raise money, but so did private individuals. George Washington was involved in a commercial project to build a road through the Allegheny Mountains, and he set up a lottery to raise capital for it. This proposal didn't bear fruit, but the lottery tickets signed by George Washington in 1768 have become rare collector's items. The deeply indebted Thomas Jefferson petitioned the Virginia legislature in 1826 to allow him to conduct a lottery to raise money by disposing of his property, and they allowed him to do so. However, the lottery failed to generate enough interest, and Jefferson passed his debts on to his heirs when he died later in 1826..

The state constitution of 1851 contained a ban on lotteries, and this was followed by an 1897 prohibition on racetrack betting. During the 1920s and '30s, Virginia was never really infested by mobsters to the same extent as some other states although there were some bootlegging operations in Arlington. Additionally, there was a concentration of illicit activity on the Potomac River within houseboats that secretly contained speakeasies, brothels, and gambling games. Under the law, most of the surface of the river was under Maryland jurisdiction, so Virginia could do nothing, and Maryland had little interest in policing it. These boating activities declined during the '50s.

In 1973, certain forms of charitable gaming were permitted, and in 1987, the Virginia Lottery was created. 1988 marked the return of legal wagering on horse races, and in 2016, Virginia made arrangements for a regulated daily fantasy sports market.

In 2019, SB1126 passed the Virginia legislature, allowing up to five B&M casinos to be built in designated locales within the state. Other legislation the next year authorized the creation of online sportsbooks.

Virginia Gambling Timeline

Virginia Gambling Timeline

Regulation Chances for Online Poker

File Folder

With a higher-than-average population and a fairly strong economy, Virginia might seem like a good candidate for regulated online poker. However, the state doesn't yet have any brick-and-mortar casinos, which typically precede any expansion into internet wagering. To date, there haven't been any attempts to introduce bills promoting licensed online poker in VA.

There's still hope though. The state's lawmakers have shown a willingness to add more forms of gambling as evidenced by their passage of S646 in 2016, which taxes and regulates daily fantasy sports sites. There was also legislation proposed in 2017 that would classify poker as a game of skill and allow poker tournaments to occur under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Furthermore, land-based casinos are expected to arrive within the next few years under the provisions of a law passed in 2019. Licensed sportsbooks are also slated to go live fairly soon. Therefore, legislators appear to be breaking with tradition by expanding gaming within Virginia.

Taking all of this into consideration, we feel that licensed online poker won't be available in Virginia in the coming few years, but it will eventually be implemented.

Land Based Gambling

Logo of the Virginia Lottery

There are very few opportunities for land based gambling in The Mother of Presidents state. There are neither commercial nor tribal casinos, and the only licensed racetrack closed its doors in 2014.

It is still possible to partake in pari-mutuel race wagering at one of a few off track betting sites. You can play the Virginia Lottery, and there are limited charitable real money gaming events. Legalized sports betting is scheduled to begin in the coming months too.

None of these limited forms of gambling includes poker. If you want to play cards in a live casino setting, then you must head to neighboring West Virginia, Maryland, or North Carolina. There are plans to license up to five casinos inside the borders of Virginia, and these venues might host poker games, but this development has not yet taken place.

Famous Virginia Poker Players

Not a historically important state where poker is concerned, Virginia has nevertheless spawned a few skilled practitioners of the game. Perhaps the most notable of them is Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo.

Justin BonomoJustin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo

Born in 1985 in Oaktown, Bonomo began playing card games competitive at an early age. At 9, he discovered Magic: The Gathering and became so good at it, over the next few years, that he eventually traveled to exotic cities to compete in major tournaments. It was from his contacts within the M:TG world that he discovered poker, which many Magic players had migrated to, attracted by the lure of bigger profits to be had.

First playing casually at Paradise Poker, he started to study the game more seriously, and in 2003 moved over to PartyPoker where his (in)famous “ZeeJustin” moniker was born. By 2004, he was playing in $200 SNGs and big online multi-tournaments, booking solid results throughout.

Unfortunately, Justin's time at the virtual tables was marred by scandal. He was caught multi-accounting (that is, playing in the same tournament with several screennames) in 2006 and banned from PartyPoker and PokerStars. At present, this is viewed as ancient history in the poker world, and only a very few still hold this incident against Bonomo.

Besides cleaning up at the online tables, Justin has also been a force to be reckoned with on the live tournament scene. His $49.1 million in offline MTT earnings is easily the highest among players from Virginia, and it's good for second place on the overall list too (behind Bryn Kenney).

Among Bonomo's live accomplishments are three WSOP bracelets, the most prominent of them being in the 2018 $1 million buyin Big One for One Drop event. He picked up a cool $10,000,000 for his first place finish. In that same year, Justin won the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl at the Aria in Las Vegas for $5,000,000.

Two other notable Virginians who have made their mark on online poker are the brothers Di “Urindanger” and Hac “trex313” Dang. They discovered the game while studying at the University of Virginia. Each of them has booked more than $8 million in online ring game winnings. They have since retired from poker to open and manage a chain of restaurants.

Online Casinos

Offshore casinos provide an outlet for those who enjoy blackjack, roulette, slots, and similar games. This is all the more true in Virginia, which has yet to see its first land-based casinos appear. If you intend to dabble in this type of gaming, then we have identified three solid operators below:

1. Ignition Casino - Up to $1,500 Bonus and Weekly Reloads
2. Bovada Casino - $3,000 in Welcome Bonuses ($3,750 with BTC)
3. Sportsbetting Casino - $3,000 in Bonuses and 10% Weekly Rebate

There are many other internet casinos that are reputable and entertaining. Learn more about them by reading this list of superb online casinos for Americans.

Online Sportsbooks

Although licensed online sports betting is expected to arrive in Virginia before too long, we foresee the initial product offerings to be a bit scanty. If you wish to enjoy a broader betting experience, then we advise you to try out one of our recommended offshore sportsbooks.

1. Bovada Sports - 50% bonus up to $250 (75% up to $750 for BTC)

2. Sportsbetting.ag - 50% up to $1,000 Bonus (100% Match for Bitcoiners)
3. Intertops Sports - Three Bonuses Available (As Much as $200 for free)

Several other reliable bookmakers accept action from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Learn more about them in this guide to USA internet sportsbooks.

Conclusion

Online poker in Virginia is an exciting hobby, and you won't encounter any legal issues for participating in it. There are a few Virginia online poker sites that are reliable and honorable, and you'll have a great time no matter which one of them you eventually elect to play at.

 

Do you have an address in a nearby state?

Virginia and Adjacent States

If you happen to have another address in a nearby state, be it your business address, summer home, second apartment, family estate, etc, you may have other online poker options available to you.  Here are a list of the states that border Virginia and Professional Rakeback's review on each of them: Delaware, Kentucky, MarylandNorth Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. For a broader overview of the poker scene online for U.S. players, check out our guide to U.S.-friendly online poker.

There's a lot of doubt and misinformation around regarding internet poker in Virginia. If you have friends or family who love poker, but you think that they may not know much about their options for enjoying it online, please consider sharing this page with them and thereby spreading knowledge about this wonderful game.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

We want you to be as informed as possible regarding online poker in Virginia. Therefore, we've collected together some of the most common questions on this subject and have answered them below.

No, the legislative authorities in Virginia have not passed any laws explicitly licensing internet poker within the state, and furthermore, there have not been any serious attempts to get such a bill passed. Therefore, Virginians who intend to dabble in online poker must head over to offshore sites.

Yes, online card games are de facto legal in Virginia. There are a few old legal provisions that could subject poker players to fines of up to $500, but in actual practice, these laws are never enforced against online poker enthusiasts.

Yes, you can play to your heart's content at PokerStars within Virginia. However, you might find this pursuit less than satisfying because the company offers only play money games to residents of The Old Dominion.

You see, after it was forced out of the U.S. market by the Black Friday indictments, PokerStars voluntarily signed an agreement with the Department of Justice whereby it pledged to not offer real money poker in the United States. To this day, the poker site is not active in the U.S. market for real money except in those jurisdictions, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where it has obtained the proper licensure from state officials.

Yes, Ignition is operating legally in Virginia although there are a few bureaucrats in Richmond and Washington who might disagree. The United States maintains that offshore poker rooms are breaking the law, but it has already lost several WTO judgments on this matter. Ignition bases its acceptance of American users on well-understood international trade rules that allow it to transact around the world.

Yes, BetOnline is conducting its affairs in accordance with the law. The company is based in Panama, where it is regulated, so it must adhere to the laws in effect in that country, not the United States. Under the rules in place in Panama, BetOnline is allowed to solicit custom from players in the United States.

Global Poker has made the case that its interpretation of sweepstakes law makes it legal in Virginia and 48 other states. We've examined this line of reasoning and believe that it comes up short. This entire topic is too intricate to treat it properly in the limited space we have here. You can learn more by reading through our site review for Global.

According to Virginia law, you must be at least 18 years of age to participate in most types of gambling. The new casinos that will be opening up in the coming years may also follow this 18-years-old guideline, but some expect that they will instead establish a minimum gambling age of 21.

When talking about the online realm, it is the 18 limit that applies. You ought not to open up any online poker, casino, or sportsbook accounts unless you are 18 or above. If you attempt to circumvent this policy, you might be in for a nasty surprise. When the time comes to verify your age and identity, you will be unable to do so and will see all your winnings forfeited.

No, it would be most unwise to attempt to run a Virginia gambling enterprise in violation of state law. Though the police largely ignore gambling violations committed by ordinary players, it's a different story regarding those who actively host the games.

Five individuals learned this the hard way when, in 2009, they were arrested in Portsmouth on suspicion of running illegal gambling operations. They faced felony charges.

The traditional banking sector has historically been a foe of the gaming industry, and it regularly attempts to prevent people from completing transactions related to gaming even if the activities in question are fully legal. Though you can use credit cards, money orders, and other legacy payment methods with varying levels of success at different online cardrooms, there's a better solution waiting for you.

Bitcoin has come to the rescue of internet poker players and sites alike. It's beyond the reach of burdensome banking regulations, and it's a reasonably speedy and inexpensive way to transfer money around online. To learn more, read this guide to using Bitcoin for online poker.

In recent years, a number of “altcoins” have also followed in the footsteps of BTC and become somewhat widespread in the offshore gaming world. You can read guides to two of these alternate crypto-currencies: Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum.

Yes, under Virginia law, you're allowed to participate in poker home games as long as they take place “in a private residence.” However, the private residence must not be used frequently for such games, which appears to be a clause designed to preclude permanent “home casinos” from popping up. In order to remain fully legal, home games must not have an “operator,” which basically means there can't be anyone in charge of the game making money from it.

Yes, there are many poker rooms (including all of the ones on our recommended list) that support mobile devices. You can use a phone or tablet to access these mobile cardrooms.

In some cases, only a subset of the games spread are available on mobile, and it may be difficult to multi-table. Therefore, you really ought to download the desktop poker package for serious use while reserving mobile poker for playing at times when you are not at home.

Both the federal Internal Revenue Service and Virginia's Department of Taxation consider poker wins to count as taxable income. Therefore, unless you wish to run afoul of the tax authorities (hint: we don't recommend it), you will have to prepare the necessary paperwork and pay the stipulated percentages of your internet poker income.

None of the offshore gaming sites will provide you with tax documents. Neither will they report your wins to the government. The responsibility for making sure you're in compliance with the tax codes rests firmly on your own shoulders.

Depending on your filing status and the amount of your poker profits, you may have options for reducing your overall tax liability. We urge you to consult with a CPA or other tax professional for additional information on this topic.

Additional Resources

Virginia isn't known as a hotspot for gambling, but you can nevertheless learn more about VA real money gaming with these resources:


We strive to maintain this information and update it frequently with our research. However, we are not immune to making mistakes or omitting information that you, dear reader, may find of use. If you have any further questions not addressed in this guide or have noted any discrepancies or inaccuracies we urge you to contact us with your questions and concerns so that we may swiftly address them!