Gambling has been legal in Virginia for forty-five years, with the approval of charitable gaming in 1973. Over the years the regulation of charitable gaming has progressed from control by the local government to the establishment of the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs to administer and enforce charitable gaming regulations. Charitable gaming has now progressed to the point that bingo, network bingo, instant bingo, poker games, and poker tournaments generate more than $265 million per year.
Charitable gaming is taxed at a rate of 1.125% by the state. There are currently ten licensed Bingo Halls in Virginia, with over 5,000 permitted seats.
THE VIRGINIA LOTTERY
The Virginia Lottery began in 1988, and is regulated by an independent agency, The Virginia Lottery Board, made up of five Virginia residents appointed by the governor. Over 100 games are offered by the Lottery at more than 5,000 retail locations. The Virginia Lottery participates in the multi-state Powerball, Cash4Life and Mega Millions Lotteries as well. Lottery tickets and weekly drawing subscriptions are available online at the official Virginia Lottery website. All profits from the Lottery, which average 30% of ticket sales, are exclusively for educational purposes. Lottery revenue in Virginia has grown from $973 million in 2000 to $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2018, generating more than $600 million for Virginia’s schools.
GAMBLING ON HORSE RACING
Gambling on horse racing has been legal in Virginia since 1989, and generated more than $100 million in revenues per year each year between 2000 and 2014, when the Colonial Downs track and its off-track satellite facilities closed over a dispute with horse breeders and owners. The sale and planned re-opening of the track this year should bring a return to the kind of revenue numbers Virginia had become accustomed to generating. Shenandoah Downs opens a second season of harness racing in September, 2018.
2018 PASSAGE OF HOUSE BILL 1609
The 2018 passage of House Bill 1609, which allows wagering on machines which feature previously run horse races, and which work just like slot machines, will increase the revenues generated by horse racing in years to come. There is currently one licensed Off Track Betting facility still operating in the state.
FANTASY SPORTS BETTING
In 2016 Virginia granted licenses to several fantasy sports websites, allowing daily wagering on sports statistics. The amount of revenue generated by Virginians playing these games is unknown.
With the lift of the federal ban on sports betting by the Supreme Court in 2018, it is expected that multiple bills will be introduced in the General Assembly to allow the establishment of sports wagering books and facilities for wagering on sports from around the world. A sports wagering facility would be a part of the casino resort proposed for Bristol.