March 31, 2023 3 min read


VDACS Regulates Charitable Bingo and Texas Hold’em Games

Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has regulated electronic bingo and Texas Hold’em played for the benefit of state charities

The state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is the most recent agency to join the list of current agencies regulating gambling in the Old Dominion. 

By giving the green light to electronic bingo and Texas Hold’em games played for charity purposes, the department will oversee the exact percentage of the money played will reach charity organizations. 

Changes Are Finally Coming 

Provided the VDACS manages to enforce the rightful regulations, charities could end up receiving more generous funding as a result of this fresh development.

It all started four years ago when the Virginia Assembly officially enacted the sweeping gambling expansion legislation best known for making sports betting in Virginia legal while allowing local referendum regarding land casinos. 

The same legislation exempted charitable gaming under state oversight. Ever since, VDACS has been busy drafting fresh rules regarding charitable gaming organizations, with the procedure finally culminating with the decision to allow VDACS staff to start inspecting bingo halls, fraternal organizations, and other organizations that provide poker games for the benefit of charities. 

Some adjustments to the new regulations may be necessary, including how much of players’ money actually reaches the coffers of charities.

Virginia to Finally Impose a Minimum Hold for Charitable Games 

For the first time in Virginia’s history, a minimum hold will be imposed for charitable games. In other words, organizations that provide these games will need to transparently open their books and allow regulators to inspect them. 

Also, the same regulators will be responsible for monitoring the payouts and establishing whether the charities successfully meet the required minimum.

Regarding electronic bingo games or pull-tab games, the respective minimum amount would be capped at 20% of their adjusted revenue. The fresh regulations will also enable organizations to adjust the cuts taken by game providers since a very small number of these organizations own their own gaming devices and gear. 

Initially, VDACS asked for a 40% minimum on bingo games and pull-tab games. Nonetheless, the 1877-founded department that protects consumers, encourages environmental responsibility and promotes the state’s economic growth decided to cut the percentage in half. This was in response to the feedback received from the parties that had a say in the process.

By comparison, out of the $16.5 million played in charitable games in Virginia in 2020, less than 2% made it to the designated charity organizations. The rest was divided among the host organizations and the providers of the game equipment after all winnings were paid.

The rules for Texas Hold’em games are yet to come, with VDACS looking forward to seeing similar improvements for charities in that regard.

New licensure procedures and reviews of charitable gaming in the state will also be implemented in the near future. 

At the beginning of February, we spoke about Virginia lawmakers’ determination to ban skill game machines, even though their latest attempt to push through with such a bill failed to get a hearing. 

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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