RICHMOND – As the options and opportunities for legal gambling in Virginia expand, the Virginia State Police is launching a nationwide tip line and online form for the public to report concerns about suspected illegal gambling activity.
If you suspect any form of gambling is illegal, you are encouraged to call the new toll-free tip line, 1-833-889-2300, or report the illegal activity online at www.vsp.virginia.gov/services/ gaming complaint form. Anonymous tips are welcome.
For those who need to report general “charitable gaming complaints,” the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services can be reached at 1-804-371-0498.
Gaming, gambling. We seem to have come a long way from starting a lottery to pay for education. So what is it all about?
Gaming encompasses these three things
We all know gambling in the same way we all know pass interference in football. TV commercials that try to normalize the gambling mindset tell us that in our daily lives we bet on things all the time.
So what is gambling, or gambling, legally speaking? We asked First Sergeant William Johnson, Gaming Enforcement Coordinator. He says it’s more than just calculating the odds.
“Gambling involves three things. It involves consideration – that is money – chance and a prize. So if you don’t have one of those three things, you don’t have gambling, if that makes sense.”
Johnson points to the misuse of charitable gambling, including “misappropriation or misappropriation of funds by these types of organizations that would in doing so violate the charitable gambling laws by which they are required to abide,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we see that. Occasionally there are those kinds of financial crimes related to gambling for charity.” It’s not just about a crooked bookmaker. It’s when you think the money isn’t going to charity as it should.
“So you have a VFW lodge or a Moose Lodge that holds bingo on Wednesday nights or something like that. Those are charitable organizations that run gambling activities. So we’re assisting VDACS (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) in their investigations of those organizations.”
“Commonwealth gaming is also quite new, legalized forms of gaming. We’re still learning and that’s the purpose of this tip line,” says Johnson. “And we want people to send in what they think, and I’ll be sure to look into those complaints.”
How about playing a game of poker with your friends at your house?
“So there is a code section 18.2-334 that says nothing in the Code of Virginia article about illegal gambling there makes it illegal to participate in a game of chance that is held in a private home,” Johnson says. If there is no operator taking money, “just a few friends or family gathering in such a private home, the code does not define that as illegal gambling.”
Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?
On fantasy sports, Johnson says, “There are legal operators that operate sports betting here in the Commonwealth. So the lottery regulates them. So DraftKings, FanDuel, etc., those are approved and licensed operators here in the Commonwealth. What we would say is that if people choose to gamble and bet on sports, they do so through approved and licensed operators here in the Commonwealth.
Johnson says Virginia’s lottery website has a list of all approved operators. “That includes licensed sports betting operators,” he said.
Everything clear? Citizens are encouraged to report anything that appears suspicious.
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