Attorneys Tell Virginia Skill Games Operators to Hold off on Pulling the Plug

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Many skill games operators in Virginia had their hands on the power cord, ready to yank the machines out and throw them in the dumpster. Lawmakers approved a controversial measure that brought an end to the one-year trial of the slot machine cousins, but now lawyers are telling operators to hold on. Several legal battles have already emerged over the ban and they are now beginning to gain more force, leading to the possibility that the ban could be reversed. The lawmakers who supported the ban are being targeted for their “discriminatory” attitude toward skill games operators, and the case is far from over.

Virginia Lawmakers Show Prejudice Against Skill Games

Skill games are in the same family as slot machines, but offer variations that allow them to be put into a separate class. They began appearing in Virginia a number of years ago; however, quickly found resistance from legislators. They still continued to gain more attention, though, and the state allowed a one-year trial last year to see if they could be effectively managed. For business owners struggling to survive COVID-19, they proved to be the only income they saw.

That wasn’t enough to appease lawmakers, though, who approved a ban that was to take effect as of yesterday. Despite the state having collected $70 million for state-led community initiatives, lawmakers decided that skill games gambling wasn’t warranted. However, they didn’t mind approving legislation that paved the way for five casinos to be built in the state. Because skill games machines are mostly found at small, independent retailers such as convenience stores, bars and restaurants, operators and lawyers are now saying that the ban is “discriminatory” against minorities and wants the courts to take a closer look. If the discrimination argument is found to have merit, it would mean that the ban is a human rights violation.

Operators have fought efforts to have the skill games permanently banned for years, but the new resistance by certain lawmakers has increased the pressure. Six operators in Norfolk and Virginia Beach got together to challenge the ban and sought a temporary injunction to keep the machines live. This past Wednesday, one day before the ban was to begin, a courtroom hosted the operators and over 30 other supporters and legal teams, all looking to find a way to convince a judge to give them some reprieve.

Chief Judge Mary Jane Hall was presiding over the case, but not for long. She has now recused herself after it was revealed that she used to work in the same law firm as Tommy Norment, an attorney-turned-lawmaker who is now the Senate Minority Leader. That relationship, given Norment’s efforts to push the ban and an apparent support of large casinos, raised questions about Judge Hall’s ability to remain impartial. With her departure, the case is in limbo and skill games operators aren’t going to change their operations until the case has closure.

26 Comments

  • Randy
    July 2, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    If they ban them the lottery should be banned also. You have to be adults to play them but Virginia wants to play daddy and tell adults they can’t play games but you can drink alcohol,Smoke weed And fight for this country for the right for them to tell you you can’t gamble. You have to work,pay taxes then to so call both and elect people to tell you what to do.

    • vivian sprouse
      July 3, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Agree 💯 You Hit It On Head Very Well Said

    • Damon Morris
      September 15, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      U all need to Bing them dam machine back people lost a lot of money on their machine

  • Jeff
    July 2, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    For me this was a major blow because Queen of Virginia has a memory-based side game built into it (“follow me”- a 20 round game of Simon) that gives you your money back after a losing spin. With the right memory technique this was probably the best opportunity for advantage play in existence. I made a consistent profit right up to their last day. Now Virginia is outlawing these while simultaneously legalizing all of the sucker-only games. If they are going to legalize casinos, online bookies, and let Rosie’s stay open then they need to let these remain as well.

    • Sandy
      July 12, 2021 at 11:02 am

      I agree 100 percent. Why does Rosie’s get to stay open?? That makes zero sense. If the skills games are illegal then they need to shut Rosie’s down too! There is no difference in those machines. We’ll the one difference is no chance to win your money back & a lot less chances of winning anything . The skills games made our corner stores a great place to socialize with people and the store owners during a pandemic. Now that things are trying to get back to some sort of normalcy, they take away one of the best things that got many of us through those bad times . If these games are illegal then please help us understand why Rosie’s is not illegal and why they are building a much larger place ???? I mean who owns it ?? Is it owned by some of our government officials or judges ?? Makes no sense. Oh well that’s my venting on the matter.

  • Greg C
    July 3, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    Actually, most people don’t want the games. These skill games have been the root of people losing their houses because of addiction. Good riddance to these machines.

    • Darlene
      July 8, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      Maybe you don’t know how to gamble responsibility but others do.. don’t tell me how to spend my hard earned money…

    • Angel
      October 7, 2021 at 10:49 pm

      I agree with you! My boyfriends addiction to the game has led us in a huge hole that we can’t get out of. So for ya’ll that have good thoughts on them… think about the people like me and my kids who we love Dad so much but it’s not our fault he fell victim to the addiction of them. Why does it seem like the majority of people for them are aggressive? Is it just me or is there a pattern I’m starting to see here? Get rid of the games! They are robbing people! Our country can’t afford to be robbed!

    • Pat Williams
      November 2, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      I LOVE reading and hearing people talking about how they know how to gamble responsibly or in the case of the reply “responsibility” (wasn’t responsible enough to proof-read her post, however). If these machines were such a boon to the players, stores wouldn’t have them. They aren’t mints, which print money, they’re profit-making devices from which the lessees return less than 5% of what they take in.

      I’m not anti-gambling, I’m anti-ignorance, and it is ignorant to think that any “skill games” make a profit for anyone other than the people that empty them at the end of the day. That’s not why they were made in the first place.

    • Terry
      June 20, 2022 at 11:45 pm

      Your exactly right been down this road myself. People don’t realize how one sided these games are to play.
      Who wants to see someone spend hrs getting free spins or a couple dollars you never get a big enough hit to were its profitable may 1 in 1000 may hit in the hundreds and even less in the thousands. But every convince store you go in looks like a small casino. The games misled you by always showing big wins and once your down 40 or 50 bucks you start trying to get it back then the next thing you know a couple hundred down. Its like having Vegas in every store and we all know very few people are winners. The only ones coming out in this adventure is the game makers and store owners and there making a killing or they would not be bring more terminals in and take out shelving space. You figure a community store if 100 people a day loses 20 dollars thats 2000 dollars a day. Got to sell alot of candy bars to make that kind of money.

  • Kevin Bland
    July 4, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    I hope they ban the machines forever. Its just another form of addiction.

    • Len Burns
      July 10, 2021 at 3:34 pm

      Let them stay in convenience stores and truck stops and sports bars that have a ABC license

    • Darlene
      August 5, 2021 at 10:25 pm

      You must be a very weak 😭 person if you let yourself become addicted to anything . I bet yes I said bet you smoke..😂

  • Crazy Christy
    July 14, 2021 at 4:56 am

    If skills machines are prohibited in public places in VA then the VA lottery scratchers should be prohibited also. That’s really what this is about… VA lottery lost sales because people began playing skills machines instead.

    • D h
      August 10, 2021 at 1:06 am

      Virginia lottery had a record year. Read/look up the articles. Va skills took nothing from va lottery.

    • Loco725
      June 20, 2022 at 11:58 pm

      Do you realize in a legal casino they have a pay back to player ratio i think its around 86 or 87 percent. Its regulated and enforced and still very few people leave winners.
      Skill games have no regulation or no pay back to player ratio they have to follow. There bad for community once people lose 40 or 50 dollars they try to win it back and loose that much more the terminals always promote big wins hundreds or even thousands and I bet less than 15 percent of players have ever won hundreds let alone thousands. Pace o matic is the parent company of the va. Queen. Since the law suit againist the injunction rumor has it there starting a Nascar team. If people want to gamble go to a casino. You shouldn’t have to walk in to a store to buy gas and leave with out your paycheck. And say what you want about addiction there are a large portion of virgina population that have addict personality of one kind or another.

  • MARTHA WOODALL
    July 15, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Those machines are no better than the VIRGINIA LOTTERY WHAT THE DIFFERENCE. Gambling is Gambling Bring the Queens machines Back.

  • Linda
    July 22, 2021 at 11:47 pm

    Virginia Lottery you never win on pick 3 , pick 4, cash 5 ,Mega Millions , Powerball all year long. Scratch tickets $50 if you are lucky. Rosie’s barley get past $20 some. $60 if you are lucky. Never part of Jackpot. Or drawings never win.

  • Linda Bell
    July 22, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    Leave Queen of Virginia in business. Least you can win $$$$ Lottery never all year long . Rosie’s not much ,if ever.

    • Avis Green
      July 31, 2021 at 12:45 am

      Leave the Queen Machines alone. They gave us something to do that was fun and people friendly.

  • Jerry
    July 24, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    This isnt about social responsibility. If it was, our state and local government reps would never have allowed the lottery, Rosies or this big new casino that is going through the process of development. It isnt about lottery loses either as they state gets $1200 per machine per month to offset those perceived losses. This is about money. These games bring a tremendous amount of money to businesses. I suspect the big investors in these larger gaming houses and the new proposed casino have made their “concerns” known in the right quarters and that is what is driving this opposition to the Queen games. Let your legislators know your displeasure when its time to vote for them again. How do you spell corruption?

  • Dennis pagan
    July 24, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Politics thats all this is….. If i cant stick my hand in the cookie jar then nobody can….. The lottery is not hurting none… Im mean give a percentage of what they lost….. Its not even a dent i bet….. Now how much has the games brung over the year…. Money that could be spread around or used to focus on something like schools…. How about take that money and help some of the folks that done lost there homes and jobs due to the pandemic….. More casinos….. I see alot of comments about addictions….. My question to yall is…. Arent people addicted to casinos dont poeple lose everything in casinos so whats the difference…… Ive been one thats lost alot but on the same token ive hit big too…. Been to rosies and won nothing so y force me to spend my hard earn money on where you want me to spend my money….. We can drink and smoke weed now but i cant gamble at millers the sandbar while i enjoy me a cold one….. Politics….. Give me some or you cant have none……

  • James scearce
    August 2, 2021 at 12:13 am

    The only people getting rich is it people that owns a machines and the store owners the rest of the people arrested people in and put their hard-earned money in it don’t have a fair chance the odds are set up so high you cannot even play and have fun I think they need to ban them

  • James
    August 2, 2021 at 12:16 am

    They can put the machines and they need to have the odds posted and someone needs to check it a regular basis the store owners the one that owns the machines the one that comes out

    • Loco725
      June 21, 2022 at 12:08 am

      Your exactly right they don’t post the odds because the odds of winning in the thousands in slim to none a free spin more or less while the while your money is disappearing is a joke. The store owners want to keep them because there making them wealth off of the communities they are serving. Thats the bottom line there is nothing in a convince store bringing in the kind of money the skill machines bring in.

  • Loco725
    June 21, 2022 at 1:50 am

    To start with there’s no skill to pushing a button. To even call them skill machines is a joke, you can’t control where the slots are going to stop if you could you would not be able to check the next puzzle.
    When the mafia planned out las Vegas people were appauled by this. And today anyone that didn’t get killed or disappear came out being very wealthy individuals. The difference between Vegas and the so called skilled machines was Vegas had rules and enforcement with in the establishment. They have a payback to player ratio that believe it or not I think it was 86 or 87 percent had to be paid back to the player. The so called skill machines have nothing no regulation and no enforcement. Yeah naturally that got to let there be a few big winners. Word of mouth goes along ways. I’ve played since they came to va.and believe it or not 10s of thousands if no a hundred thousand has came out of my pocket.
    I still think somewhere down the line I’m going to hit but if every conveince store in the state didn’t have ten of them lined up beside the door I probably wouldn’t not have lost a dime. There misleading when the screen shows last player hit 1200 on a 2 dollar bet. It no different the gun manufactures misleading the public about assault rifles you know the bushmaster for deer hunters. And no I’m not anti gun I believe in or 2nd ammendment right fully but the point is in a convenience store where you stop every day for gas and smokes. Were neighborhood kids go to spend there allowance. There’s a place for them but not in convenience stores. Put them in bars casinos or gambling houses I dont have to go in a bar or casino never been to Rosie’s dont go to bars but I’m tired of these machines getting my hard earned money. Thats the bottom line. Everyone talks about big business but I hate to tell you alot of conveince store owners own multiple stores and there’s not one thing that brings in revenue like slot machines. I bet they could teach a monkey to play so called skill machines better than most people. They are no more than slot machines. Remember when they first came to va.they owners had to log and keep record of what was taken in and paid out. The vendors had to come around and install more spins I’ve talked to them and had one tell me he put an extra 500 payout in this set. They games are rigged for the manufacture and the owner there not even being taxed right now because if the state accepted money from. Them that would make them legal.

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