Illegal Gambling and Fraud Money With a Pair of HandcuffsGambling is a popular pastime in Virginia, but it is important to be aware of the laws governing gambling in the state. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are considered gambling fraud. If you are charged with illegal gambling, you could face harsh penalties if convicted. Your first step should be to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to mount an aggressive defense strategy to fight the charges you face.

Understanding What Is Considered Gambling Fraud in Virginia

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-325, it is considered illegal gambling to make, place, or receive a bet or wager of money or something else of value in exchange for the chance to win money, a prize, or another item of value when playing a game or engaging in another event or contest that has an uncertain outcome. Gambling fraud can be committed in Virginia or interstate.

There are four elements to this crime. The prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. They include the following:

  • Intent. In Virginia, the critical element of illegal gambling is intent. You must have intentionally and willingly cheated or misled another person to gain a monetary or other gain from them. For example, if you offered them some of your winnings at a casino for the payment of a fee with the intent that they lose, this element of the crime would be established.
  • Reasonable reliance. Another element of illegal gambling in Virginia is reasonable reliance. The victim must have reasonably relied on the illegal activity as a means of making a profit or gaining some other benefit.
  • Damages. The third element of illegal gambling in Virginia is damages. The victim must have suffered monetary or other damages due to your statements or advice.
  • Misrepresentation of a material fact. The final element of illegal gambling in Virginia is misrepresenting a material fact during illegal gambling operations.

Penalties for Illegal Gambling in Virginia

The penalties for gambling fraud can vary depending on the specific circumstances of your case, including the nature and extent of the illegal gambling activity, your criminal history, and other factors. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the potential penalties you may face and develop a defense strategy to help you minimize the punishments you face.

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-326, illegal gambling is charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor. If convicted, you could have to pay a fine of up to $500. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record and face long-term consequences, such as difficulty obtaining employment and housing.

Other More Serious Gambling Crimes and Penalties

Other crimes associated with illegal gambling carry harsher penalties in Virginia. They include the following:

  • Horse racing. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-326, if a person makes, places, or receives a bet, wager of money, or another thing of value, on a horse race at an unlicensed facility, they can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Winning by fraud. A person who cheats or wins money or something else of value by other fraudulent means while gambling can be fined not less than five times or not more than ten times the value of their winnings under Virginia Code § 18.2-327. This penalty would be in addition to any other punishments the individual would face for convictions of other associated crimes.
  • Conducting illegal gambling operations. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-328, an individual can be charged with a Class 6 felony if they are an operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity, or operation. If the unlawful gambling operation has been in continuous operation for 30 days or more and has gross revenue of at least $2,000 on any day, the punishment shall include a minimum of one year to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $20,000.