Skill game company highlights contributions, as state lawmakers consider regulation

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) A company that has placed skill games in businesses across Virginia says the benefits include more than $1 million in charitable contributions. But the future of the games is uncertain, as state lawmakers prepare to take a closer look.

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"We're happy to be here in support of Ronald McDonald House."

Representatives of the company Queen of Virginia Skill and Entertainment were in Roanoke Tuesday to highlight a contribution to the Ronald McDonald House. The gift helped the organization replace some of its freezers.

Across the state, the company has given to more than 250 non-profits, more than $1.2 million.

"We support large needs," said Annette Post, "but we also like to hear from small groups that really need a hand up."

The electronic gaming devices resemble slot machines, but the companies that operate them say they are games of skill not subject to restrictions on gambling. The state says there are thousands of unregulated machines in Virginia, with more on the way.

State lawmakers like Delegate Terry Austin (R-Botetourt Co.) are taking notice.

"I was quite amazed at the number of machines that they anticipate are active in Virginia," Austin said.

And many are concerned how so-called grey machines will impact other forms of authorized gaming.

"You put a casino next to a parimutuel betting thing it affects the moneys that are received," said Delegate Ken Plum (D-Fairfax Co.) during a recent legislative hearing. "If at the same time at every 7-11 or whatever kind of establishment you put in a grey machine, you've just blown the whole thing up on who makes any money on it."

At Wolf's Den Billiards in Roanoke County, Kory Wolfard says the machines have helped him open a business and hire six employees in a space that was vacant for six years.

Wolfard, and Queen of Virginia, say they're open to state regulation.

"And if some of the money from these can go to education then I'm all for it," Wolfard said.

"It is up to the legislature to decide, but we welcome it," Post told WDBJ7. "We support it. We've participated in every program that will allow that to come to be, so that we can help the whole Commonwealth.
And we look forward to getting a positive result in the upcoming legislature."

A recent study of gaming in Virginia suggested the state consider regulating the machines.

At least one Senator said to expect legislation that would ban them, so a fight over the future of skill games could be brewing in Richmond.

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