Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally
Chapter 8. Crimes Involving Morals and Decency
6/17/2024

Article 1. Gambling.

§ 18.2-325. Definitions.

1. "Illegal gambling" means the making, placing, or receipt of any bet or wager in the Commonwealth of money or other consideration or thing of value, made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake, or other consideration or thing of value, dependent upon the result of any game, contest, or any other event the outcome of which is uncertain or a matter of chance, whether such game, contest, or event occurs or is to occur inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth.

For the purposes of this subdivision and notwithstanding any provision in this section to the contrary, the making, placing, or receipt of any bet or wager of money or other consideration or thing of value shall include the purchase of a product, Internet access, or other thing made in exchange for a chance to win a prize, stake, or other consideration or thing of value by means of the operation of a gambling device as described in subdivision 3 b, regardless of whether the chance to win such prize, stake, or other consideration or thing of value may be offered in the absence of a purchase.

"Illegal gambling" also means the playing or offering for play of any skill game.

2. "Interstate gambling" means the conduct of an enterprise for profit that engages in the purchase or sale within the Commonwealth of any interest in a lottery of another state or country whether or not such interest is an actual lottery ticket, receipt, contingent promise to pay, order to purchase, or other record of such interest.

3. "Gambling device" includes:

a. Any device, machine, paraphernalia, equipment, or other thing, including books, records, and other papers, which are actually used in an illegal gambling operation or activity;

b. Any machine, apparatus, implement, instrument, contrivance, board, or other thing, or electronic or video versions thereof, including but not limited to those dependent upon the insertion of a coin or other object for their operation, which operates, either completely automatically or with the aid of some physical act by the player or operator, in such a manner that, depending upon elements of chance, it may eject something of value or determine the prize or other thing of value to which the player is entitled, provided, however, that the return to the user of nothing more than additional chances or the right to use such machine is not deemed something of value within the meaning of this subsection; and provided further, that machines that only sell, or entitle the user to, items of merchandise of equivalent value that may differ from each other in composition, size, shape, or color, shall not be deemed gambling devices within the meaning of this subsection; and

c. Skill games.

Such devices are no less gambling devices if they indicate beforehand the definite result of one or more operations but not all the operations. Nor are they any less a gambling device because, apart from their use or adaptability as such, they may also sell or deliver something of value on a basis other than chance.

4. "Operator" includes any person, firm, or association of persons, who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity, or operation.

5. "Skill" means the knowledge, dexterity, or any other ability or expertise of a natural person.

6. "Skill game" means an electronic, computerized, or mechanical contrivance, terminal, machine, or other device that requires the insertion of a coin, currency, ticket, token, or similar object to operate, activate, or play a game, the outcome of which is determined by any element of skill of the player and that may deliver or entitle the person playing or operating the device to receive cash or cash equivalents, gift cards, vouchers, billets, tickets, tokens, or electronic credits to be exchanged for cash or cash equivalents whether the payoff is made automatically from the device or manually. "Skill game" includes (i) a device that contains a meter or measurement device that records the number of free games or portions of games that are rewarded and (ii) a device designed or adapted to enable a person using the device to increase the chances of winning free games or portions of games by paying more than the amount that is ordinarily required to play the game. "Skill game" does not include any amusement device, as defined in § 18.2-334.6.

7. "Unregulated location" means any location that is not regulated or operated by the Virginia Lottery or Virginia Lottery Board, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, or the Virginia Racing Commission.

1975, cc. 14, 15; 1992, c. 423; 2010, c. 877; 2011, cc. 879, 887; 2019, c. 761; 2020, cc. 1217, 1277; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 329, 546; 2022, cc. 554, 609; 2022, Sp. Sess. I, c. 2; 2023, Sp. Sess. I, c. 1.

§ 18.2-325.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 879 and 887, cl. 2.

§ 18.2-326. Penalty for illegal gambling.

Except as otherwise provided in this article, any person who illegally gambles or engages in interstate gambling as defined in § 18.2-325 shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. If an association or pool of persons illegally gamble, each person therein shall be guilty of illegal gambling.

However, if any person makes, places, or receives any bet or wager of money or other thing of value on a horse race in the Commonwealth, whether the race is inside or outside the limits of the Commonwealth at any place or through any means other than (i) at a racetrack licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1 or (ii) at a satellite facility or through advance deposit account wagering, as those terms are defined in § 59.1-365, licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission pursuant to Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. For the purposes of this paragraph, venue shall be in any county or city in which any act was performed in furtherance of any course of conduct constituting illegal gambling.

Code 1950, § 18.1-316; 1960, c. 358; 1973, c. 463; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1992, c. 423; 2011, c. 732.

§ 18.2-327. Winning by fraud; penalty.

If any person while gambling cheats or by fraudulent means wins or acquires for himself or another money or any other valuable thing, he shall be fined not less than five nor more than ten times the value of such winnings. This penalty shall be in addition to any other penalty imposed under this article.

Code 1950, § 18.1-318; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-328. Conducting illegal gambling operation; penalties.

The operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. However, any such operator who engages in an illegal gambling operation which (i) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or (ii) has gross revenue of $2,000 or more in any single day shall be fined not more than $20,000 and imprisoned not less than one year nor more than ten years.

As used in this section, the term "gross revenue" means the total amount of illegal gambling transactions handled, dealt with, received by or placed with such operation, as distinguished from any net figure or amount from which deductions are taken, without regard to whether money or any other thing of value actually changes hands.

Code 1950, § 18.1-318.1; 1972, c. 364; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1983, c. 331.

§ 18.2-329. Owners, etc., of gambling place permitting its continuance; penalty.

If the owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person in control of any place or conveyance, knows, or reasonably should know, that it is being used for illegal gambling, and permits such gambling to continue without having notified a law-enforcement officer of the presence of such illegal gambling activity, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 18.1-319, 18.1-324, 18.1-337, 18.1-339; 1960, c. 358; 1968, c. 401; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-330. Accessories to gambling activity; penalty.

Any person, firm or association of persons, other than those persons specified in other sections of this article, who knowingly aids, abets or assists in the operation of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity or operation, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 18.1-319, 18.1-325; 1960, c. 358; 1968, c. 401; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1984, c. 625.

§ 18.2-331. Illegal possession, etc., of gambling device; penalty.

A person is guilty of illegal possession of a gambling device when he manufactures, sells, transports, rents, gives away, places or possesses, or conducts or negotiates any transaction affecting or designed to affect ownership, custody or use of any gambling device, believing or having reason to believe that the same is to be used in the advancement of unlawful gambling activity. Violation of any provision of this section shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 18.1-323, 18.1-329, 18.1-330; 1960, c. 358; 1962, c. 633; 1964, c. 371; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-331.1. Operation of gambling devices at unregulated locations; civil penalty.

A. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, any person who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, sells, or owns a gambling device that is located in an unregulated location is subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each gambling device located in such unregulated location.

B. The Attorney General, an attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for any locality may cause an action in equity to be brought in the name of the Commonwealth or of the locality, as applicable, to immediately enjoin the operation of a gambling device in violation of this section and to request an attachment against all such devices and any moneys within such devices pursuant to Chapter 20 (§ 8.01-533 et seq.) of Title 8.01, and to recover the civil penalty of up to $25,000 per device.

C. In any action brought under this section, the Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for the locality may recover reasonable expenses incurred by the state or local agency in investigating and preparing the case, and attorney fees.

D. Any civil penalties assessed under this section in an action in equity brought in the name of the Commonwealth shall be paid into the Literary Fund. Any civil penalties assessed under this section in an action in equity brought in the name of a locality shall be paid into the general fund of the locality.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 329, 546; 2022, c. 553.

§ 18.2-332. Certain acts not deemed "consideration" in prosecution under this article.

In any prosecution under this article, no consideration shall be deemed to have passed or been given because of any person's attendance upon the premises of another; his execution, mailing or delivery of an entry blank; his answering of questions, verbally or in writing; his witnessing of a demonstration or other proceeding; or any one or more thereof, where no charge is made to, paid by, or any purchase required of him in connection therewith.

Code 1950, § 18.1-340.1; 1960, c. 226; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-333. Exceptions to article; certain sporting events.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent any contest of speed or skill between men, animals, fowl or vehicles, where participants may receive prizes or different percentages of a purse, stake or premium dependent upon whether they win or lose or dependent upon their position or score at the end of such contest.

Any participant who, for the purpose of competing for any such purse, stake or premium offered in any such contest, knowingly and fraudulently enters any contestant other than the contestant purported to be entered or knowingly and fraudulently enters a contestant in a class in which it does not belong, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 18.1-319, 18.1-322; 1960, c. 358; 1968, c. 401; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-334. Exception to article; private residences.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in a game of chance conducted in a private residence, provided such private residence is not commonly used for such games of chance and there is no operator as defined in subsection 4 of § 18.2-325.

Code 1950, § 18.1-327; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1992, c. 423.

§ 18.2-334.1. Defeated at referendum.

Defeated at referendum.

§ 18.2-334.2. Same; bingo games, raffles, duck races, and Texas Hold'em poker tournaments conducted by certain organizations.

Nothing in this article shall apply to any bingo game, instant bingo, network bingo, raffle, duck race, or Texas Hold'em poker tournament conducted solely by organizations as defined in § 18.2-340.16 which have received a permit as set forth in § 18.2-340.25, or which are exempt from the permit requirement under § 18.2-340.23.

1979, c. 420; 1993, c. 513; 1995, c. 837; 2013, cc. 36, 350; 2020, c. 982.

§ 18.2-334.3. Exemptions to article; state lottery; sports betting.

Nothing in this article shall apply to:

1. Any lottery conducted by the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to Article 1 (§ 58.1-4000 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 58.1; or

2. Any sports betting or related activity that is lawful under Article 2 (§ 58.1-4030 et seq.) of Chapter 40 of Title 58.1.

1987, c. 531; 2020, cc. 1218, 1256.

§ 18.2-334.4. Exemptions to article; pari-mutuel wagering.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in any race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering conducted in accordance with Chapter 29 (§ 59.1-364 et seq.) of Title 59.1.

1988, c. 855.

§ 18.2-334.5. Exemptions to article; certain gaming operations.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to make it illegal to participate in any casino gaming operation conducted in accordance with Chapter 41 (§ 58.1-4100 et seq.) of Title 58.1.

2020, cc. 1197, 1248.

§ 18.2-334.6. Exemptions to article; amusement devices.

A. As used in this section:

"Amusement device" means a game that is activated by a coin, token, or other object of consideration or value and that does not provide the opportunity to (i) enter into a sweepstakes, lottery, or other illegal gambling event or (ii) receive any form of consideration or value, except for an appropriate reward.

"Appropriate reward" means a noncash, merchandise prize (i) the value of which does not exceed the cost of playing the amusement device or the total aggregate cost of playing multiple amusement devices, (ii) that is not and does not include an alcoholic beverage, (iii) that is not eligible for repurchase, and (iv) that is not exchangeable for cash or cash equivalents.

B. A person may make amusement devices available for play if the prize won or distributed to a player is a noncash, merchandise prize or a voucher, billet, ticket, token, or electronic credit redeemable only for an appropriate reward. An appropriate reward shall only be redeemable on the premises where the amusement device is located.

C. An amusement device shall not be designed or adapted to cause or enable a person to cause the release of free games or portions of games when designated as a potential reward for use of the device and shall not contain any meter or other measurement device to record the number of free games or portions of games that are rewarded.

D. An amusement device shall not be designed or adapted to enable a person using the device to increase the chances of winning free games or portions of games by paying more than is ordinarily required to play the game.

2020, cc. 1217, 1277, § 18.2-334.5; 2022, Sp. Sess. I, c. 2; 2023, Sp. Sess. I, c. 1.

§ 18.2-335. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1979, c. 420.

§ 18.2-336. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2004, c. 995.

§ 18.2-337. Immunity of witnesses from prosecution.

No witness called by the Commonwealth or by the court, giving evidence either before the grand jury or in any prosecution under this article, shall ever be prosecuted for the offense being prosecuted concerning which he testifies. Such witness shall be compelled to testify and for refusing to do so may be punished for contempt.

Code 1950, § 19.1-266; 1960, c. 366; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-338. Enforcement of § 18.2-331 by Governor and Attorney General.

If it shall come to the knowledge of the Governor that § 18.2-331 is not being enforced in any county, city or town, the Governor may call upon the Attorney General to direct its enforcement in such county, city or town, and thereupon the Attorney General may instruct the attorney for the Commonwealth, sheriff and chief of police, if any, of such county, or the attorney for the Commonwealth and chief of police of such city, or the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county in which such town is located and the chief of police or sergeant of such town, to take such steps as may be necessary to insure the enforcement of such section in such county, city or town, and if any such officers, after receiving such instructions, shall thereafter fail or refuse to exercise diligence in the enforcement of § 18.2-331, the Attorney General shall make report thereof in writing to the Governor and to the judge of the circuit court having jurisdiction over the acts thereby prohibited, and thereupon the Attorney General upon being directed so to do by the Governor, shall take such steps as he may deem proper in directing the institution and prosecution of criminal proceedings, to secure the enforcement of § 18.2-331.

Code 1950, § 18.1-334; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-339. Enjoining offenses relating to gambling.

Whenever any person shall be engaged in committing, or in permitting to be committed, or shall be about to commit, or permit, any act prohibited by any one or more of the sections in this article, the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county or city in which such act is being, or is about to be, committed or permitted, or the Attorney General of the Commonwealth, may institute and maintain a suit in equity in the appropriate court, in the name of the Commonwealth, upon the relation of such attorney for the Commonwealth, or the Attorney General, to enjoin and restrain such person from committing, or permitting, such prohibited act or acts. The procedure in any such suit shall be similar to the procedure in other suits for injunctions, except that no bond shall be required upon the granting of either a temporary or permanent injunction therein.

Code 1950, § 18.1-343; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-340. County ordinances prohibiting illegal gambling.

The governing body of any county may adopt ordinances prohibiting illegal gambling, including a provision for forfeiture proceedings in accordance with Chapter 22.1 (§ 19.2-386.1 et seq.) of Title 19.2. Such ordinances shall not conflict with the provisions of this article or with other state laws and any penalties provided for violation of such ordinances shall not exceed a fine of $2,500 or confinement in jail for 12 months, either or both.

Code 1950, § 18.1-344; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1991, c. 710; 2012, cc. 283, 756.