Virginia Gov. Amends Skill Games Legislation, Proposes Strict Rules

Currently, Virginia offers a range of gambling activities, including casino gambling, mobile and retail sports wagering. Additional activities available for residents and visitors of the state include venues offering historical horse racing machines. However, similar to other states, lawmakers in Virginia do not share the same opinion when it comes to skill games, which are popular across the state and are available in many small businesses.

While some lawmakers consider banning the popular skill games, others support the idea of regulating and collecting taxes from such games. A few years ago, Virginia banned skill games but that was a temporary measure considering it was challenged in court. Earlier this year, supporters of skill games, including small business owners such as restaurants, gas stations and other businesses, joined forces and encouraged lawmakers to establish effective regulations for the popular games.

Last month, legislators in Virginia sent dozens of bills for the approval of Gov. Glenn Youngkin. One such proposal involved the regulation of skill games. As the deadline for action by the governor was nearing, he signed some 777 bills, vetoed 153 proposals and amended a total of 116 bills. One of the amended bills was the proposal for the regulation of skill games, as announced by the Associated Press.

The Governor Proposes Tough Restrictions

Gov. Youngkinโ€™s amendment to the bill included a range of restrictions for skill games. Moreover, he proposed an increase in the tax rate to 35%. The Governorโ€™s proposed restrictions seek to limit the spread of skill games by prohibiting their offering within close proximity of houses of worship, churches, as well as other gambling establishments such as casinos.

Christian Martinez, a spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin, revealed that the proposed changes represented โ€œadded protections.โ€ Moreover, he explained that the restrictions for skill games proposed by the governor seek to address โ€œserious concerns with the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of machines, impact on the Virginia Lottery and broader public safety implications.โ€

The recently formed coalition that supported the regulation of skill games voiced its concerns about the proposed changes. The coalitionโ€™s president and restaurant owner, Rich Kelly, who was interviewed by the Associated Press, called the Governorโ€™s amendments โ€œdevastating.โ€ He argued that the tough restrictions would effectively prohibit businesses from offering skill games in a 35-mile range from racetracks and casinos across the state. Last but not least, Kelly warned that the proposed tax rate by the Governor would make skill games the gambling activity with the highest tax in Virginia.