Virginia: Skill game supporters urge governor to deliver on his past promises

March 27, 2024 2:29 PM
Photo: By Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America - Glenn Youngkin, CC BY-SA 2.0,
  • Mia Doyle, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
March 27, 2024 2:29 PM
  • Mia Doyle, Special to CDC Gaming Reports

Skill game supporters in Virginia held a rally in Richmond Tuesday, urging Gov. Glenn Youngkin to remain true to campaign promises that he made in 2021 and sign legislation to repeal a ban on skill games.

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The ban has been in place since December, after the Supreme Court made the final ruling against them in October.  Now, Youngkin is reviewing a bill that would overturn this ban and legalize and tax skill games in Virginia.

If Youngkin approves SB212, it will establish regulations for electronic skill game machines, which have previously operated in a legal gray area. Youngkin has been reviewing the bill since the beginning of the month when it passed the Virginia Assembly with fairly limited debate. It passed the Senate 31-9 and the House of Delegates by 49-43.

“The governor is closely reviewing the legislation and budget language sent to his desk, but still has numerous issues to work through including the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of machines, impact on the Virginia Lottery and broader public safety implications,” said Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez. “In 2021, when asked about this industry broadly, candidate Youngkin intimated interest in what expansion to these activities in convenience stores could potentially look like in Virginia, but now he has to look at the legislation presented to him.”

If the ban is lifted, convenience stores, restaurants and other retail establishments licensed by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage and Control Authority would be permitted to have a maximum of four skill games and truck stops up to 10 machines.

There will be a 25 percent tax on the gross receipts from each machine going toward the PreK-12 Priority Fund, which supports research and development in STEM for preK-12 students.

As he campaigned to become governor in August 2021, Youngkin made a radio appearance, which was posted to his campaign’s YouTube page. He was asked if he would support skill games when he becomes governor.

“I’m supportive of the skill games. I just think all businesses should be allowed to do business,” Youngkin said. “Skill games actually do enable so many small businesses to not only grow their business but also simply to survive.”

“As the debate around the regulation of skill games unfolds, I hope that Gov. Youngkin stands by what he said on the campaign,” said Bhavin Patel with the Virginia Amusement Coalition, who owns convenience stores.