Poker Clubs and the Law in VA

I'm wondering if anyone knows what the "Blue Laws" are in regards to playing poker at home in VA.

I've been wanting to start a bit of a Poker Club amongst my friends to play about twice a month. Small stakes. $10 to $20 buy-in for your chips, no rake.

However, we've all read stories regarding busts. I want to get an idea to what extent this kind of thing is regulated. I know that some states simply place limits on the amounts that can be gambled.

I'm obviously not doing this for the money, but I think having a little cash at stake with the potential to win a decent chunk of cash is key.

Anyone know the details?

Hmmmm.....In most states, you'd be ok since there is no rake. However, Virginia (the "Law and Order State")seems to have a pretty broad definition of illegal gambling.

1. "Illegal gambling" means the making, placing or receipt, of any bet or wager in this Commonwealth of money or other 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 this Commonwealth.

Here's the relevant exception for home games. I have bolded some important bits:

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 ยง 18.2-325.

What's an operator you ask? Well...

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.

What's "common use"? I don't know.

As for the penalties, well......They're not good.

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.

So what does all this mean?

(1) I would make sure your game rotates between houses.

(2) Keep it bewtween your friends. No invites, no posting on "" etc.

(3) Be aware that the sudden upswing in poker games has a lot of states police forces panties in a bunch.


nice answer.

Steve's done his homework. A+ my man!

thanks, Steve!

I do intend to keep it to people that I already know, but I wanted to be see of there was any line I could be crossing that might draw attention to what I'm planning on doing and cause unintentional problems for me and my buds....

Khun Kao:

Here's the thing:

If you read the exception carefully, you'll note that it excepts participating in a home game from being illegal. Nothing specifically excepts running a home game.

If you rotate the game around, I think you can say that you are not "commonly using" your home as a gambling establishment, but I don't know.

Bottom line: If you run a game in VA, and the police want to be jerks, they may be able to hang their hat on a strict reading of the statute. If you keep it quiet, however, it's doubtful they'll have an opportunity to do so.

Gotcha! Point well taken!