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Virginia Legislature to Review Amendments on Skill Games Bill



Virginia’s Skill Games Bill Controversy: Legislative Debates and Community Protests

A Pivotal Moment for Virginia’s Gambling Landscape—As Virginia gears up for a critical legislative session on April 17, the state finds itself at the heart of a heated debate over the future of skill games. Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recent amendments to Senate Bill 212, which aims to legalize skill games in various venues, have sparked widespread protests from local business owners. These amendments, touching on regulatory, fiscal, and location-based restrictions, could dramatically reshape the economic and social fabric of communities across Virginia. The coming days are crucial as stakeholders from all sides seek to influence the final shape of this legislation.

Background of the Skill Games Legislation

In 2021, Virginia lawmakers implemented a ban on skill game machines due to their close resemblance to slot machines and ongoing concerns about whether these games truly require “skill” or are a form of gambling. Senator Aaron Rouse’s sponsorship of SB 212 aimed to lift this ban, allowing convenience stores, restaurants, and truck stops to legally operate these machines. However, the introduction of Governor Youngkin’s substantial amendments has reignited controversy and resistance from various sectors.

Governor Youngkin’s Amendments Explained

Governor Youngkin has proposed several key changes to the original bill that have elicited strong reactions from community and business leaders:

  • Proximity Restrictions: Skill games would be prohibited within a 35-mile radius of existing gaming facilities and 2,500 feet from schools or places of worship.
  • Tax Increases: The proposed amendments would raise the tax rate for small businesses operating these machines from 25% to 35%, with revenues directed towards the PreK-12 Priority Fund.
  • Regulatory Concerns: The amendments also address the structure of regulation and the number of machines permitted, aiming to tighten control over the operation of skill games.

Community Response and Protests

The response from the community, particularly from convenience store owners, has been one of palpable frustration. The Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC) organized a two-day protest to demonstrate the potential economic impact of the proposed changes. Nearly 500 businesses participated by ceasing to issue Virginia Lottery tickets, aiming to highlight the contribution of these businesses to state tax revenues and local economies. An hour-long closure by participating stores on the second day of protests sought to further emphasize the local impact of the governor’s amendments.

Legislative Considerations and Potential Outcomes

As the Virginia General Assembly reconvenes, lawmakers are faced with a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the state’s regulatory landscape and its communities. They may choose to accept, reject, or modify Youngkin’s amendments. The legislative body also holds the power to override any vetoes, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass the measure.


The Role of Regulatory Authorities

If the bill passes with amendments, the Virginia Lottery is set to become the permanent state regulator for skill games. Until then, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage and Control Authority may oversee the machines temporarily. This transitional period is critical as it will set the groundwork for the future regulatory framework of skill games in Virginia.

Conclusion: A Defining Moment

The debate over the skill games bill in Virginia is more than a legislative issue; it is a reflection of broader societal values and economic interests. As lawmakers, business owners, and community members engage in this pivotal discourse, the outcome will likely influence not just the future of skill games but also the principles governing similar issues nationwide. As Virginia stands on the brink of potentially transformative changes, all eyes are on the General Assembly’s decisions in the coming days.

Stay Informed and Engaged

For those interested in the developments of gambling regulations and community economics in Virginia, staying informed about the outcomes of the April 17 session is crucial. Understanding the nuances of this legislative process and its implications will provide valuable insights into the intersection of law, community welfare, and business interests.


Jerome, a valuable addition to the Gamingo.News team, brings with him extensive journalistic experience in the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry was sparked during his college years when he participated in local poker tournaments, eventually leading to his exposure to the burgeoning world of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now utilizes his accumulated knowledge to fuel his passion for journalism, providing the team with the latest online scoops.

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