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.

10 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

  • 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…

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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