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How Does Virginia Define & Punish Illegal Gambling?

Gambling

Illegal gambling is a Virginia crime that can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the nature of the offense. For both participants and operators, the criminal consequences of illegal gambling can be severe under Virginia law.

What is the Virginia Definition of Illegal Gambling?

The state definition of “illegal gambling” appears under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-325. This section defines illegal gambling as:

  • The making, placing, or receiving of any bet or wager in Virginia for money, consideration, or anything of value;
  • Exchanging something for a chance to win any prize or similar thing of value; and
  • Which is dependent upon the result of any contest, game, or similar event, if the outcome is uncertain or a matter of chance.

It does not matter whether the contest, game, or similar event occurs outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Even if the bet or wager was placed in Virginia, it can qualify as a violation of Section 18.2-325.

In addition, Section 18.2-325 details a specific version of illegal gambling, legally referred to as “interstate gambling.” Interstate gambling occurs when a for-profit business that operates in Virginia that purchases or sells interest in out-of-state lotteries, largely regardless of the kind of interest involved (i.e., an actual lottery ticket, receipt, consideration, etc.).

How Does Virginia Punish Illegal Gambling?

The state punishment for illegal gambling and interstate gambling appears under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-326: Any person who engages in illegal/interstate gambling is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. A conviction at this level can result in a maximum punishment of $500 in criminal fines.

That being said, illegal gambling can be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This version of illegal gambling applies to any bet or wager placed on a horse race that does not occur:

  • At a racetrack licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission;
  • At a satellite facility licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission; or
  • At an advance deposit account wagering location licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission.

A conviction for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia can result in a maximum punishment of $2,500 in criminal fines and/or 12 months in county jail.

How Does Virginia Punish Illegal Gambling Operations?

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-328, any person who runs an illegal gambling operation, enterprise, or activity will likely face Class 6 felony charges. A conviction at this level can result in a maximum punishment of $2,500 in criminal fines and/or five years in prison.

Section 18.2-328 carves out an exception to the Class 6 felony charge. There is a separate penalty for any illegal gambling operation that:

  • Has existed substantially in continuous operation for more than 30 days; or
  • Accrued a minimum of $2,000 in gross revenue in any single day.

In these situations, the punishment for running an illegal gambling operation increases to a maximum of $20,000 in criminal fines and/or 10 years in prison.

Contact Us Today

The Leesburg criminal defense lawyers at Simms Showers LLP can help you fight your criminal charges. Reach out to us today for a consultation.

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