Slot-like skill games get reprieve in Virginia

December 7, 2021

Land Line Staff

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Certain skill games that resemble slot machines that were banned in July in Virginia can return to service.

A Virginia judge issued a temporary injunction Monday blocking the enforcement of a law that banned a type of electronic betting machine as a lawsuit is fought in court, according to an Associated Press article. The skill games are seen at truck stops, convenience stores and bars.

A trial set is scheduled for May. Bill Stanley, a GOP state senator and attorney, is representing former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler. Sadler owns the truck stop and gas station company that brought the lawsuit.

The Virginia General Assembly voted in 2020 to ban the machines. However, operators got a one-year reprieve after Gov. Ralph Northam asked lawmakers to delay the enactment by a year. Instead, Northam wanted to tax the machines and use the revenue to help fund coronavirus relief efforts.

The games look like and work similarly to slot machines. Players can win cash by playing them.

Sadler’s attorneys argued in court documents that the ban has caused confusion about what a “skill game” is and has hindered law enforcement’s ability to prohibit illegal games. The lawsuit argues the ban is unconstitutional and has adversely affected small businesses.

The skill game lawsuit is playing out in a state where gambling has expanded in recent years.

Online sports betting started this year in Virginia at seven sportsbook operations licensed by the state.

Also, Virginia lawmakers in 2019 approved allowing five cities –Danville, Bristol, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Richmond – to build one casino each, according to PlayVirginia.com. Voters in all but Richmond approved casinos in November 2020. Richmond voters rejected a casino in November 2021. LL

Other news from Virginia can be found here.

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