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A History of Gambling and Casinos in Virginia

Last Updated: Thursday, March 9, 2023 by Virginia Beach
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Casinos and gambling have long been a part of the Virginian culture. It is obvious that gaming has played a significant role in forming Virginia’s economy, from colonial days when lotto tickets were distributed to help finance public works projects to the present with five large casino sites spread out across the state. In order to appreciate what makes this business so distinctive today, one must first understand its past.

In order to fund public works projects during the colonial period, Virginia was one of the first states to establish lotteries. Throughout much of its early history, gambling was largely unregulated and conducted underground. However, in 1971 pari-mutuel betting on horse racing became legal. This led to other forms of legalized gaming such as bingo halls and off-track betting facilities becoming available throughout certain parts of the state by the 1980s. Full-scale casinos opened their doors in 2020 following voter approval from the 2019 referendum allowing them legally operate within certain jurisdictions around the Richmond area. In addition to that, according to the new law, Virginia online casinos have become legal which opened a window for many opportunities and future benefits. Nowadays the number of online gambling sites Virginia increases as a consequence of the state’s loyal regulations. In addition to that, online gambling VA is not only for the local people but also for tourists, who want to spend their time more excitingly. Here gamblers can enjoy several games including, Virginia online slots, the most prominent Virginia online gambling sites table games, and so forth.

Today there are five major resort-style casinos operating within various locations around Virginian metropolitan areas including Norfolk, Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth & Richmond offering various different types of table games & slot machines. In addition to that several entertainment venues like live performances and theater shows make them popular tourist attractions amongst locals and visitors alike.

Understanding how Gambling has evolved over time from Colonial Times to Modern Day Casinos across Virginia can provide valuable insight into why this industry continues to be so successful. In this article, you’ll learn more about:

  • The history of casinos in Virginia,
  • The role of gambling in Virginia
  • The future opportunities

History of Gambling in Virginia

Since the first years of English settlement, gaming has had a lengthy and diverse past in Virginia. In the early days, card games were especially popular among immigrants due to the impact of English culture. On the other hand, dice were used less frequently due to their historical connection with the crime. However, structured versions didn’t start to emerge in Virginia until after the Civil War.

During this period there was significant public opposition towards all forms of gambling as well as other vices such as alcohol consumption and prostitution. This led to several laws that passed in the state and started prohibiting any kind of activities from taking place within state lines during Prohibition Era Gambling in Virginia (1920-1933). Consequently, many gamblers started to gamble in undergrounds where they could continue their pastime without fear of repercussions from law enforcement officials. However, these establishments did not always have sufficient safety measures in place which often resulted in violent disputes over money or cheating accusations between patrons. All of this made them dangerous places for anyone involved!

With technological advances over recent years Virginia online casinos have become increasingly popular amongst Virginians who are looking for a safe environment to gamble in. Nowadays Virginians are able to gamble legally at online casinos Virginia without having to worry about breaking any laws or putting themselves at risk by visiting an illegal den. VA online casinos provide players with access 24/7 anywhere around the world! VA online gambling sites provide many benefits over conventional physical casinos, such as incentives, promos, and a greater assortment of games than ever before. Online gambling in Virginia enables people to engage in their preferred hobby while staying within the restrictions of the laws established by state government officials.

Modern Era: Legalization and Expansion

In Virginia, gambling has a lengthy and illustrious past. Gambling has been a significant component of Virginians’ daily lives since the early era. However, the approval and widespread growth of casinos in the state over the past few years have significantly altered the environment.

Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, VA

In 2020, after much debate amongst lawmakers and citizens alike, legislation was passed allowing five cities across Virginia to host commercial casinos. The passage of this bill marked a major milestone in terms of casino gaming throughout the Commonwealth. Not only did it open up new opportunities for economic growth but also brought more jobs into local communities which had previously been lacking due to a lack of investment outside traditional industries.

The gambling business can increase job possibilities, tax income, and tourist spending. On the other hand, if not properly controlled, it could lead to possible issues like criminality, increased addiction rates, or decreased property values. Clear rules must be implemented in order for all parties to profit from these endeavors without suffering any direct or secondary damage.


In conclusion, Virginia’s experience with casinos and gaming has seen both highs and lows. Gambling has always had a position in Virginian society, from its modest origins as a form of amusement during colonial times to its present standing as a significant source of income for the state. It is obvious that Virginians have supported gambling at the online casino Virginia for many years and will do so in the future. All Virginians should be proud of how far this business has come in such a brief amount of time, as evidenced by the progression from low-tech games like cockfighting to more sophisticated ones like online gambling.



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