October 27, 2023 3 min read


Deadline Nears for Virginia Beach Skill Game Crackdown

This move comes after the Virginia Supreme Court lifted an injunction that had previously kept these games legal in the state

Virginia Beach is gearing up for a major crackdown on electronic skill games, giving business owners a 30-day grace period before enforcement begins on November 26

Businesses and Players Grapple with Harsh Penalties on Skill Games

Skill games, which resemble slot machines but involve an element of player skill, have been a contentious issue in Virginia since 2020 when the General Assembly declared them illegal gambling devices. The recent Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for strict enforcement in Virginia Beach.

Under the new law, any business found operating skill games after the grace period could face severe penalties. Violators may incur civil penalties of up to $25,000 per device. Furthermore, individuals caught playing these games could be fined up to $500. Those operating the machines could face criminal charges, potentially leading to imprisonment for up to 12 years and fines of up to $2,500, reported local news outlet WAVY.

Business owners, particularly those operating small establishments, are feeling the pressure. Boyd Melchor of Kelly’s Tavern, a vocal advocate for skill games, expressed concern about the impact on local businesses. Melchor emphasized the role these games played in supporting small enterprises.

Pace-O-Matic, the software company behind many of these skill games, has also weighed in on the issue. They have urged lawmakers to regulate and tax the industry, emphasizing the positive impact such regulations could have on small businesses and tax revenue. Despite the recent court ruling, Pace-O-Matic remains hopeful for future regulations that could support both businesses and communities.

Businesses and Players Anxiously Await the November 26 Deadline

While the grace period offers a brief reprieve, the impending crackdown has left business owners and players on edge. Amy Brewer, a single mother who enjoys these games at Kelly’s Tavern, expressed her concern about losing the supplemental income these games provided.

The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has issued a public statement, clarifying that skill games constitute illegal gambling. As the November 26 deadline approaches, businesses and players alike are bracing themselves for the impact of these new regulations on their livelihoods and entertainment options.

Virginia is not the only US state that has troubles with skill game machines. Nebraska is grappling with a rapid surge in the proliferation of these slot-like machines found in convenience stores and bars, with 4,752 units dispersed across nearly 1,600 retail locations in the state.

Lawmakers, problem gambling counselors, and casino operators are alarmed by the unchecked growth, raising concerns about addiction and underage gambling. Meanwhile, other US states like Pennsylvania, for example, are also facing challenges in regulating similar video gaming machines, sparking debates and legal battles over their enforcement and impact on the gambling industry.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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