New coalition to push for skill game legislation

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A trial set for December could decide the fate of skill games in Virginia. And now, a coalition of businesses hopes to convince the General Assembly to regulate the industry, and allow the machines to stay.

The state banned skill games two years ago, but they are still operating in convenience stores and other small businesses across the state.

Former NASCAR driver and truck stop owner Hermie Sadler took the state to court, and a judge has allowed the machines to continue operating while the constitutional challenge is pending.

The trial is now set for Dec. 18, 19 and 20.

No matter what happens then, a new coalition will push lawmakers to regulate the industry and allow the machines to stay.

Rich Kelley is a restaurant owner in northern Virginia, and president of the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition.

“We believe that skill games are good. And they are good for our communities and good for our businesses,” Kelly told WDBJ7. “And we just want everyone to know that, because we don’t want them to go away again.”

In the last two years, Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin Co.) said the state has given up a quarter of a billion dollars in potential revenue.

“And so what we need is to have a smart tax and regulatory scheme,” Stanley said in a recent interview. “We need to acknowledge and allow our small businesses in Virginia to take part in this new emerging industry, the gambling industry, the gaming industry, and to do it responsibly.”

And with major turnover coming in the General Assembly in January, Stanley said he’s optimistic skill game advocates will find more support in Richmond.