“Virginia’s Skill Gaming Path Shakes Up the Gaming Industry”

Posted on: January 16, 2024, 01:48h.
Last updated on: January 16, 2024, 01:48h.

Legislation to relegalize skill gaming in Virginia cleared its first hurdle this week in Richmond, with multiple varying interests aiming to control the commonwealth’s unsettled gaming industry.

Virginia skill gaming bill casinos
18-year-old Zach Smith plays a skill game at a 7-Eleven in Henrico County, Va., in 2023. Virginia skill gaming legislation garnered support from a Senate committee this week in Richmond. (Image: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Senate Bill 212, which passed by a 10-5 vote, seeks to reestablish a legal framework for skill gaming terminals in businesses licensed by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC).

Virginia temporarily legalized the controversial machines during the pandemic. The law ended in 2021, but a state judge allowed them to continue operating while a lawsuit dragged out. However, the Virginia Supreme Court eventually reinstated the ban.

Under SB212, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and truck stops in Virginia holding ABC licenses would be allowed to house skill gaming machines, with operators and distributors facing specific fees and annual renewals, as well as state taxes.

Skill Games Bill Forwarded

The bill will now be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, a surprising development after initial anticipation that it would be directed to the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee due to its gaming and wagering nature.

Notable opposition comes from legislators supportive of Virginia’s casino industry, who believe skill games may negatively impact their establishments.

However, Sen. Louis Lucas supports gaming expansion and championed moving the bill to the Finance Committee, hinting at a likely second committee backing at the Senate floor.

Opponents’ Concerns

Concerns raised by some Committee members revolve around regulation, particularly questioning the qualifications of convenience store clerks in upholding gaming standards. Skill gaming advocates believe these establishments would adhere to regulations and face penalties if they do not.

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