May 20, 2024 3 min read

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Virginia Governor Vetoes Skill Games Bill

Although Gov. Glenn Youngkin was unwilling to proceed with the lawmakers’ current proposal, he expressed readiness to revisit the matter in the future

In a move that has stirred significant debate, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed 48 measures on Friday, including a high-profile bill to legalize skill games and establish a regulatory framework for such electronic devices in the state. However, the Governor hinted at his willingness to collaborate with lawmakers and help introduce a more comprehensive solution.

Customer Safety Remains a Priority

The veto came soon after Youngkin signed a bipartisan budget for fiscal years 2024-26. This event marked the end of a prolonged standoff with Democrats that began when the General Assembly adjourned its regular session in early March without a budget agreement. The budget compromise, which required a special session to finalize, did not include provisions for skill games despite significant stakeholder interest.

During the budget-signing ceremony, Youngkin expressed openness to considering a new skill games proposal. The Governor emphasized the need for comprehensive safeguards in gaming legislation. Youngkin was adamant that he would continue cooperating with lawmakers to work on skill games, ensuring their implementation followed responsible guidelines and prioritized player protection.

When it comes to additional gaming options, such as games of skill, we must proceed with a robust set of safeguards.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

Opponents of electronic betting machines, including the grassroots organization Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines, have been vocal in their disapproval. A recent poll commissioned by the organization indicated that Virginians opposed legalizing skill games by 56% to 36%. Although Virginia banned such devices in 2023, the state still struggles with illegal operators.

Skill Game Regulation Is a Matter of Time

Senate Bill 212, sponsored by Senators Aaron Rouse and Timmy French, formed the core of the legislative effort to legalize skill games. The bill passed in the Senate with a 32-8 vote and in the House with a 51-45 vote during the regular session. It sought to establish a regulatory framework and tax structure for skill games, projected to generate $200 million in tax revenue.

Despite the veto, there is cautious optimism among some lawmakers and small business owners about reaching a compromise. Stakeholders agree that legalizing skill games is vital to curbing illegal gambling. Proponents highlighted the advantages of such an approach, as skill games can empower businesses and provide the state with additional funds to invest in communities.

With a potential new proposal on the horizon, stakeholders across the commonwealth are watching closely to see if lawmakers can reach a balanced solution that supports small businesses while addressing regulatory concerns. The General Assembly must act before 28 June to bring a new bill forward, and Governor Youngkin’s administration appears ready to engage in further discussions.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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