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Virginia’s House and Senate Vote in Favor of Lifting Ban on Gray Skill Machines

House and Senate of Virginia This Monday, the House and Senate of Virginia voted to pass SB212, a piece of legislation that concerns skill game machines. The said products are similar to slots yet involve an element of skill not present in traditional slot games, which has made their legal status a complicated matter in Virginia.

Before they were regulated, these machines used to be staples in many Virginia-based business establishments, such as restaurants, truck stations, and the like. A ban on the said games came into effect in 2020, but was only enforced in 2021 due to COVID-19. Although a Virginia judge later put the ban on a temporary halt because of a legal challenge, the said court challenge was annulled last year. This resulted in Virginia-based establishments being prohibited from having skill machines and from allowing customers to play the prohibited games. Since then, business owners have, on multiple occasions, called for the ban to be reversed.

If enforced, SB212 will make it legal for any establishment that has a license issued by Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to have no more than four skill machines. Truck stops, on the other hand, will be allowed to have up to ten skill game machines. Only individuals who are at least 21 years old will be permitted to play these games, and retailers will be required to enforce this rule. Failure to do so will result in legal consequences. In addition, the bill will mandate that a tax rate of 25% will be imposed on skill machines.

Licensing fees will also be implemented when it comes to the manufacturers of the said machines, as well as their operators. The former’s license will cost $500,000, while the latter’s will be capped at $100,000.

SB212 Is Not Yet Set in Stone

SB212 Although the vote in favor of SB212 will, in no doubt, be a cause for celebration for Virginia-based retailers, it should be noted that the bill is not yet in effect. Instead, it first needs to be signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin.

A spokesperson of Gov. Youngkin’s office disclosed with the Virginia Mercury last week that the administration has identified causes for concern with the proposed legislation. A number of potential issues were highlighted, including how the Virginia Lottery would be affected by the legislation and what the “broader public safety implications” of either version of the bill would be.

Moreover, as reported by the Virginia Mercury, the machines’ potential legalization has been met with some criticism. The Fraternal Order of Police specifically sent a letter to Virginia officials in which it stressed that the proposed law, should it be enforced, would reward “bad actors” who have circumvented the law and have “acted in bad faith.” Of course, not all representatives of law-enforcement have been against the bill, with the Virginia Law Enforcement Sheriff expressing approval of the new law. Both views, as well as other major factors that have to do with skill machines, will be taken into consideration before the bill is officially enforced.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.