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Illegal Gambling in Virginia

Virginia Code § 18.2-325 defines illegal gambling as making, placing, or receiving a bet or wager of money or another thing of value in exchange for the chance to win money or something else of value when playing a game or engaging in a contest or other event with an uncertain outcome.

Some Forms of Gambling Are Legal in Virginia

While gambling is generally illegal according to the statutory definition provided above, some forms of gambling are allowed in Virginia. You may not be charged with a crime if you were:

  • Betting on horse racing at a licensed facility
  • Engaging in charitable gaming where a game of chance, such as bingo, was sponsored by a non-profit organization
  • Playing a game of chance, such as poker, in someone’s home
  • Participating in a state-sponsored lottery, such as Mega Millions or Powerball
  • Betting on professional sports. It remains illegal to bet on a college sport involving a Virginia team or youth sports involving people under the age of 18
  • Playing certain types of skill games at a family entertainment center as long as the potential prize is a merchandise prize and not cash

Criminal Penalties for Illegal Gambling in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia considers gambling a crime involving morals and decency. According to Virginia Code § 18.2-326, illegal gambling in Virginia is a Class 3 misdemeanor. The potential penalties for a Class 3 misdemeanor conviction include a fine of up to $500 and a criminal record.

However, in some cases, horse race betting at an unlicensed facility may be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor instead of a Class 3 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor conviction is a more serious offense that is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and jail time.

Owners of gambling establishments or people engaged in gambling fraud may face other charges and potential penalties.

Have You Been Charged With Illegal Gambling in Virginia?

Many crimes have more significant potential sentences than illegal gaming. You may be tempted to pay your fine quickly so that you can put this matter behind you. However, before you pay your fine or represent yourself in court, we encourage you to think of all of the potential consequences.

A misdemeanor conviction involves more than the fine that you may pay or the jail time you may serve. A misdemeanor is a crime that will result in a criminal record, and a criminal record could impact your:

  • Employment
  • Security clearance
  • Housing
  • Immigration status
  • Ability to get a loan

Additionally, gambling may not be the only charge against you, and the other charges could include more significant penalties.

Before you accept any criminal consequences, we encourage you to contact our experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyers who may:

  • Explain the charges against you and the potential penalties if you are convicted on any of the charges
  • Investigate all aspects of your case and develop a comprehensive defense strategy
  • Negotiate a plea agreement, if appropriate
  • Prepare you for any court proceedings
  • Represent you in all court hearings

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will aggressively defend you, even if you’ve “just” been charged with a misdemeanor. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get to work on your behalf and help relieve the uncertainty and stress that come with a misdemeanor charge.

We invite you to contact us any time by phone or online chat. Alternatively, you may fill out our contact form to have a member of our team contact you. Let’s talk about your situation during a free case consultation so that you can be confident in your path forward.