Bill to legalize games of skill in Virginia vetoed by Gov. Youngkin

May 20, 2024
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Governor sent a list of amendments to address bill concerns, but said he was disappointed to not see any implemented.

In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin ruled on 115 bills on May 20, including Senate Bill 212 (SB212), which would legalize games of skill in the state. Gov. Youngkin chose to veto SB212, citing concerns about the safeguards in place to help regulate these types of gaming options in the state.

In November of 2023, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of banning skill-based games, but several state lawmakers wrote a letter to Gov. Youngkin in which they asked him to delay the ban due to the significant effect it could have on small businesses at the time. 

Senators Aaron Rouse and Timmy French sponsored SB212, which brought together legislative efforts to legalize skill games. The bill passed in the Senate after a 32-8 vote and in the House with a 51-45 vote during the regular session. SB212 looked to establish a regulatory framework and tax structure for skill games, also projecting tax revenue to reach $200m. 

When recounting on the lead-up to SB212 being vetoed, Gov. Youngkin said, “In recent years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has authorized casinos, sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering, on top of longer-standing gaming options like the Virginia Lottery, horse racing and charitable gaming. When it comes to additional gaming options, such as games of skill, we must proceed with a robust set of safeguards. 

“I sent over a package of amendments which addressed my many concerns with the bill. While it is regrettable that my recommendations were not adopted, I remain open to working with the General Assembly going forward on this subject.”

Lawmakers and stakeholders hoping to see games of skill eventually reach legalization in Virginia will be forced to create a modified bill and present it to Gov. Youngkin prior to June 28, when voting for the 2024 year will cease. 

However, optimism remains as the Governor and his administration seem willing to work together in some capacity to legalize skill-based games.

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