Roanoke’s position on skill games: Warning before prosecution

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 4:11 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office plan to warn businesses that operate skill games to cease doing so, instead of immediately initiating prosecution.

That’s in the wake of the Virginia Supreme Court reinstating a ban on skill games devices and a judge dismissing a lawsuit that challenged the state’s ban.

The city’s law enforcement says the city’s goal is to focus on violent crimes, and so regarding illegal skill games, any focus initially will be on locations “that have a history and connection to violent incidents.”

The city offered the following news release:

“This press release is intended to advise the general public that Roanoke Police Chief Scott Booth and members of his senior staff met last Wednesday afternoon with Donald Caldwell, the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney and his Chief Assistant John McNeil to discuss a common sense approach to the enforcement of illegal electronic skill games which has been the subject of much discussion across the Commonwealth during the past two months.

It is important for the public to understand that electronic skill games are now clearly illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Individuals who continue to offer illegal electronic skill games to the public currently run the risk of being charged with a violation of the law. Those who choose to ignore the law do so at their own risk.

However, the law enforcement priority of the Roanoke Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office clearly has to be the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes. Consequently, the initial law enforcement focus relative to illegal electronic skill games will be centered around locations that have a history and connection to violent incidents.

The Roanoke Police Department is an agency that seeks to provide education ahead of enforcement. Locations that continue to operate illegal electronic skill games will be given notice to cease operation or face prosecution. It is the hope of both the police department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office that this issue will be resolved by voluntary compliance.”