Virginia Online Poker Laws

Virginia Online Poker Law

As one of the strictest gambling states in the nation, Virginians who play online poker most likely have a significant wait until the state’s lawmakers decide poker is not gambling and stop taking a draconian attitude against the online poker industry.

As of late 2013, there was no online poker or gambling bills proposed, and online poker is not on the lips of any of the lawmakers. In fact, in 2011, lawmakers closed several loopholes that may have opened the gates for those Internet cafes that have swept through some southern states. The law change made online gambling explicitly illegal.

The sponsor of the bill, Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr., gave a typical, over-the-top declaration when it was approved by his colleagues.

“The Virginia General Assembly stood up today for Virginia values and left (in) Las Vegas what belongs in Las Vegas.”

So at least we know Virginians remain safe from the Las Vegas boogeyman with good ole Clay at the helm. The law change is very much in line with the conservative status of Virginian Assembly folks, but change may be coming. Virginians elected a Democrat governor in 2013, and a few more moderates took seats away from some of the more hardcore conservatives.

Virginia has been a little harsh on its poker players. The two main sponsors of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 are Virginia Congressmen. Also, at one time there used to be almost a dozen of poker rooms that operated as clubs, but around 2010, the authorities said enough was enough and forced them to shut down. A restaurateur was even arrested and charged with a felony for holding a poker game at his house that consisted of friends and family members.

The man argued that since poker is a game of skill, it doesn’t fall in line with how current gambling law is written. The case was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which refused to wade into the debate and allowed the case against the gentleman to go forward.

When Can I Play Online Poker in Virginia?

Although there’s going to be significant resistance to online gambling legalization, online poker legalization has a chance in Virginia. A standalone online poker bill would definitely make for an easier fight. The newer anti-Internet gambling law would have to be contended with, but if, by some miracle, poker is legally declared a game of skill — a longshot for sure in Virginia — then the new laws wouldn’t apply to online poker.

With no chatter coming from Virginian lawmakers about online poker legalization, Virginian online poker players have to hope for the Federal Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 somehow squeezes through. But as states around Virginia began to allow their residents to play online poker, look for lawmakers to re-evaluate the online poker issue. Without a federal law, Virginia will remain an online poker wasteland until at least 2020.