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West Virginia Online Gambling Laws

This page will introduce you to information regarding the gambling laws for the state of West Virginia. We will provide information on both land based and online gambling laws for the state, in an effort to help players understand the legality of gambling for residents and visitors to WV and hence make informed decisions regarding the best course of action for them as players. Understanding what legal options are available is not always easy in the rapidly changing gambling landscape. Since the DOJ declared that each state can determine their own destiny when it comes to both offline and online gambling, there are not really any blanket answers with span the nation, but rather players must take a case by case approach when trying to understand any state's specific position concerning gambling. This is why we have taken the time and effort to develop a page on each state's gambling laws and how it affects players in each state.

This guide will address a variety of topics, including land based gambling laws, and how the law pertains to West Virginia online gambling. We will take a look at multiple gambling venues, including WV online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks and bingo halls. We will also look at the brick and mortar versions of all gambling that is legal inside the state's borders. We will explore legal gambling definitions, penalties for illegal gambling, and what the state allows and/or prohibits.

Legal Gambling Definitions Concerning West Virginia Gambling Laws

West Virginia gambling law does not contain a specific definition of gambling or betting. While there are many charges associated with gambling, none of them clearly define what is prohibited and what is permitted. The law lists the following as prohibited activity:

In West Virginia it is an offense to bet on games of chance. However West Virginia gambling law does not define a game of chance. The law does list a set of games that are not prohibited under West Virginia law. These include chess, bowls, draughts, backgammon and licensed games. The law however does not make a specific exception for social or private gambling. As such even a home game of poker between individuals who are in a social relationship can run afoul of West Virginia gambling law. Those charged with gambling in a public place can face additional charges. Cheating at gambling is a misdemeanor offense in West Virginia. It does not matter if the gambling activity in question is legal or not.

Is It Legal To Participate In Online Gambling In West Virginia?

At present, there are no laws in West Virginia that specifically prohibit or regulate online poker. Federal laws do not specifically prohibit the playing of legally licensed and regulated West Virginia online poker or online casino games. The Wire Act does not apply to online poker or casino games while the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 does not prohibit participating in online gambling. It only places regulatory oversight on how online gambling transactions can be processed. It is not legal to operate an online gambling site in WV, however there are multiple legally licensed West Virginia online sports betting sites, casinos, poker rooms and bingo halls which welcome players from West Virginia and the rest of the USA.

History of Gambling in West Virginia

West Virginia has a long history of gambling. The early settlers indulged in gambling on a large scale. Legislators made attempts to prohibit gambling by passing laws. These laws were rarely enforced and the people continued to gamble. However in the mid 1900s the law enforcement agencies began to crack down on gambling.

The state legalized racing in 1933 although the first race tracks were built in 1926. Horse racing was very popular during the Great Depression. Greyhound racing was legalized in 1975. Today the state has two horse race tracks and two greyhound race tracks. All these four racing facilities are racinos - they have slot machines and table games.

West Virginia Pari-mutuel Gambling Laws

The four parimutuel facilities in West Virginia have video gaming machines that play slots, blackjack, and poker. In 1990, West Virginia was the first state on the East Coast to install them in racetracks. In 2001 liquor licensed facilities were allowed to install video lottery terminals. According to West Virginia law, a "Video lottery game" is a lottery commission approved, owned, and controlled electronically simulated game of chance that is displayed on the screen or video monitor of a video lottery terminal. Each video lottery terminal in the state is tied into a central computer system at the West Virginia Lottery Headquarters and monitored 24 hours a day. In 2007 the state allowed the race tracks to offer table games allowing the tracks to become full casinos.

Is Charitable Gambling Allowed in West Virginia?

Charitable gambling is legal in West Virginia. Charitable and tax exempt public service organizations can conduct charitable gambling events in the form of bingo and raffles. However they must apply for a license from the State Tax Department. The organization must have been in existence in the state for at least two years to be eligible for a license. The license is valid for a year from the date of issue and allows the organization to conduct two charitable gambling events every week. The event must be held in the county where the organization is principally located. For players who are interested in participating in bingo gambling outside of a charitable venue can access some secure and legally licensed West Virginia online bingo halls that are located outside of the USA.

Is There A State Lottery In West Virginia?

West Virginia has a state lottery. In November 1984 the voters voted to amend the state constitution to allow the lottery. As a result the state lottery commission comprising of seven members was set up in 1985. The West Virginia state lottery started out by selling instant scratch tickets. The first ticket was sold in January 1986. The state lottery became a member of the Multi State Lottery Association in 1988. When the lottery was established, all profits were transferred to the state general fund. However in 1989, it was decided that the profits would be used for programs benefiting education, tourism and senior citizens. The state lottery commission also oversees the installation and operation of video lottery terminals across the state.

West Virginia Gambling Laws

This content was provided as informational only and is not intended to serve as professional legal services or advice. If you are seeking professional legal services or interpretation of any law or statute, we suggest you contact an attorney. We are not lawyers and are not trained or certified to provide any type of legal services or advice.

You can review the statutes and laws for West Virginia in their entirety on the West Virginia State Legislature Official Website.