Virginia locals launch coalition advocating skill games

August 15, 2023
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The General Assembly tried to outlaw skill games in 2020.

A group of small-business owners formed a coalition to advocate for the legalization of skill games. 

The General Assembly passed legislation outlawing skill games in 2020. In recent years, Virginia has gone back and forth on whether skill games are allowed — with a court order currently allowing only some establishments to provide them.

The ban went into action in 2021 until state Senator Bill Stanley filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hermie Sadler, alleging it violated small businesses’ constitutional rights to free speech.

Rich Kelly, President of the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition said, “We want to reach out to legislators and say, ‘Hey, we want the skill games to continue,’ They have been an integral part of our recovery from Covid-19 and they have not damaged the community.”

Those who oppose skill games argue that they are harmful to Virginia’s casino industry and the state lottery - of which its profits contribute towards K-12 grade education.

Certain people contested how skill games have been a useful resource throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as skill games provide location partners with 40% of profits. One cafe owner stated, “The profits from the games helped keep stores alive. If we didn’t have the games, we wouldn’t still be in business.”

The coalition’s release added that the group supports law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gaming.

It states, “Regulating and taxing legal skill games will also help law enforcement better identify bad actors and put a stop to illegal gaming operations. These entities harm our communities and jeopardize the success of legitimate establishments.”


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