NEWS Bill to legalize electronic ‘games of skill’ in Virginia won’t move forward

Bill to legalize electronic 'games of skill' in Virginia won't move forward

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A top Republican lawmaker doubts his bill legalizing so-called skill machines in Virginia will pass this year, saying a protracted legal battle over the issue has left some hesitant to the proposal. decision.

Virginia bans slot-like betting machines commonly found in convenience stores, truck stops, sports bars and other businesses.But an ongoing legal battle holds back the Commonwealth from enforcing the banleaving the device in a largely unsupervised space.

House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) put forward a motion Reauthorize these devices until at least July 2024 by reinstating Virginia’s pre-prohibition rules. The measure was supposed to go to the Republican-led House general law subcommittee this week, but it never did.

On Thursday, Del. Kilgore confirmed that his bill has lapsed and that he doubts “it will come back” through legislation or the state budget process. The Associated Press first reported that no progress had been made on the legislation.

“I think there is support, but the litigation going through the court system has some people concerned about the legislation while it’s in the process,” Kilgore told 8News.

Electronic betting machines are sometimes called “gray machines” because they operate in a legal gray area and look and pay out winnings just like slot machines. The industry and manufacturers of the machines believed that skill was involved – hence the name “game of skill”.

The Virginia Legislature voted in favor of the so-called game of skill ban, but lawmakers agreed to delay the ban at the request of the then-governor. Ralph Northam (D) So taxes from these machines could help fund states’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban goes into effect in July 2021, when state lawmakers approve legislation to Make way for up to five casinos and mobile sports betting in Virginia.

Before the ban went into effect, a lawsuit challenging the ban was filed in Greenville County Circuit Court on behalf of the truck stop and gas station company owned by former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler.

The court granted an injunction against enforcing the ban, which was extended as Sadler’s attorney, Republican State Sen. Bill Stanley (Franklin County), delayed the court case in the legislative session.

Proponents of the game of skill, including distributors, argue that the machines bring much-needed revenue to small businesses and will generate federal millions in tax dollars, including public education funding.

Proponents claim that without the previous rule, the federal government would not have been able to police illegal machines hosted by businesses or impose higher tax rates on those devices.

“If regulated, skills competitions are expected to generate more than $140 million in annual tax revenue, revenues that the General Assembly can use for important efforts such as funding Virginia schools, improving our infrastructure and supporting law enforcement in response to tens of thousands of illegal races in Virginia communities,” Pace-O-Matic Chief Public Affairs Officer Mike Barley said in a statement.

Pace-O-Matic, the skill game developer behind the Virginia Queen game, has donated nearly $1 million to Virginia candidates, nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, According to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Kilgore’s bill would increase the maximum fine for those using so-called skill machines in unauthorized locations from $25,000 to $50,000.

The measure would put the still-existing and largely unsupervised betting machines under the purview of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Agency again, amid federal efforts to create a regulatory structure.

Youngkin spokesman Macaulay Porter declined to comment on Kilgore’s bill. Sadler’s case is expected to be reopened later this year after the General Assembly, meaning the machines will remain in place until a ruling is reached.

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