Supporters of skill games call on state lawmakers to reconsider ban

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 7:17 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The company that supplied many of the skill games that operated in Virginia says illegal machines have multiplied since a statewide ban took effect last summer.

During a news conference Wednesday morning in the Roanoke Valley, representatives of the company Pace-O-Matic said unregulated games of chance are costing the state millions of dollars in revenue.

And they urged lawmakers to reconsider the state’s prohibition on skill games.

“We want to be good citizens of the community and the state, and operate legally,” said Tom Marino, a former U.S. Attorney and Congressman from Pennsylvania, who now serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs for Pace-O-Matic.

Marino and two other employees of the company spoke with WDBJ7 near Plantation and Play, a location they say is operating unregulated machines.

“A compliance officer went into this location, did observe over 40 games on and operating,” said Jill Feagan, herself a compliance officer for Pace-O-Matic.

They said the state ban on skill games has hurt many local businesses that hosted their machines. And the lack of enforcement has allowed illegal devices to spread.

“Our games and other skill games have generated over $130 million in revenue for the state,” Marino said. “Now there’s no revenue coming in, because most if not all these people are not paying any taxes, or paying very little taxes.”

We spoke briefly with an employee at Plantation and Play, but haven’t received a response from management.

Marino said he’s hopeful state lawmakers will allow regulated skill games to return.

“If it’s going to create jobs, and it’s going to create revenue, not only for the store owner but for the state, this is a no-brainer,” Marino told WDBJ7.

Whether lawmakers agree it’s a no-brainer, supporters of skill games are also looking to the courts for help.

A lawsuit filed by former NASCAR driver and truck stop owner Hermie Sadler is scheduled to be heard Monday in Greensville County.

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