Poker in Virginia

Introduction

Population: 8,536,000

Capital: Richmond

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

Time Zone: UTC-5

State Name Abbreviation: VA

Casinos with Poker

  • Rivers Casino Portsmouth (NOT OPENED YET)
  • Richmond Resort Casino (NOT OPENED YET)
  • Horseshoe Danville (NOT OPENED YET)

Virginia, the state that has given the US its most presidents, is also the state that was among the last to legalize land based casino gambling. The state legislature finally approved five cities as locations to build casinos in 2019. Those five cities are: Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth and Norfolk. The fifth, the capital city of Richmond, completed the legal process a year after the others.

With that new piece of legislation passed by the State Assembly, sports betting was also legalized.

There are no casinos in operation in the entire state of Virginia yet. However, there’s a number of ambitious projects proposed in the 5 cities. As of now, it seems the first one to open will be Rivers Casino in Portsmouth. It is set to open in late 2022 or in early 2023. Three successful gambling venues run under the Rivers Casino brand in the US today. Two in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) and one in Illinois (Del Plaines). They’re operated by Rush Street Gaming, which is in turn, owned by casino mogul Neil Bluhm.

With the passage of the 1988 Indian Gaming Act, a federal law, Virginians could have gotten their own casino on Native American reservations, even before the 2019 state legislation. However, the “Old Dominion State” is one of the few where no Native American casino is located.

While the new venues open, local gamblers must cross state lines for some action, usually in nearby Maryland or West Virginia. Virginia does have a few horse race tracks, some of them even have slot machines. They even have a state lottery. However, as for a proper poker room with regular tournament and cash game action, there is none – currently.

Famous Virginian Poker Players

Justin Bonomo was born in Oakton, VA. He led the famous Hendon all time money list between July 2018 and August 2019. He was eventually overtaken by Brynn Kenney.

Bonomo has $53.263 million in live tournament winnings. That is still the second most in the world, and – evidently – the most in Virginia. He has 3 WSOP gold bracelets. In July 2018, he took down the $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop high roller at the World Series of Poker for $10 million. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.

Second on that list is John Gabe Patgorski from Chesapeake, VA. He has $7.833 million in live tournament cashes. He regularly plays in Triton super high stakes tournaments around the world. In August 2019, he finished first in the £250,000 Short Deck NLHE “Les Ambassadeurs Private Event” at Trition London for £4.815 million. He beat none other than his fellow Virginian Justin Bonomo heads-up for the title.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Virginia –

   Live Poker Legislation in Virginia

We’ve mentioned the 2019 Gambling bill passed by the State Assembly which legalized casinos in 5 cities and sports betting. To be more specific, it’s Bill SB1126, which was passed by the State House 64-33; and was passed by the Senate 30-10.

Horse race betting, bingo, fantasy sports and the state lottery were the only games of chance that had been legal in the state even before the new 2019 bill. The penalties for illegal gamling are outlined in the Code of Virginia § 18.2-326.

For gambling licences, you need to apply at the Treasurer of Virginia. The application fee is a friendly $200. Regulation of all land based gambling is under the purview of the Virginia Lottery.

  Live Poker Venues in Virginia

As we wrote in our intro, currently there are no venues offering poker tournaments or cash games in Virginia. This is because the legislation permitting casino gambling is so new. All we can give you is a few proposed casino projects, currently under planning or construction.

We wrote about the one most likely to open first, Rivers Casino in Portsmouth. Based on other casinos under the Rivers brand in the US, we can be fairly certain it’s going to have a large poker room with good game selection.

The capital city of Richmond has had a number of proposals. So far, Bally’s bid had been rejected. However, Winds Creek is still in contention; while the Pamunkey Indian Tribe’s Richmond Resort Casino is set to open in 2022 or 2023.

In the city of Danville, Caesars Entertainment is planning to open Horseshoe Danville. As the most prominent sponsor of the WSOP, Caesars is bound to have a big focus on poker if their newest venue does come to fruition.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Virginia –

Rivers Casino Portsmouth

Richmond Resort Casino

Horseshoe Danville

  Online Poker in Virginia

Virginia is in the same boat as most other states in the Union. They don’t have any specific legislation covering online gambling. Thus, they don’t have a regulated online gambling market.

In turn, thus, you cannot legally play on gambling sites, including online poker rooms, over the internet. The 1961 Wire Act and the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, both federal laws, make sure that where the state law doesn’t specifically allow for it, online gambling is illegal. We’ve seen their disastrous effects on Black Friday in 2011.

So, Virginians looking to play some online poker have two options. They either go for an unregulated offshore site like Americas Cardroom; or they play on a real money social poker app using the sweepstakes model like PokerBros.