No skill games within 35 miles of casinos

Virginia convenience stores temporarily halt lottery sales in protest against skill game regulations

Reading time 1:50 min

In a statewide display of dissent, convenience stores across Virginia ceased selling Virginia Lottery tickets on Monday in protest against proposed regulations targeting skill games. Organizers estimated that hundreds of stores participated in the one-day shutdown, aiming to highlight the potential repercussions of Governor Glenn Youngkin's amendments to a pending bill seeking to legalize, tax, and regulate skill games.

Krunal Patel, co-owner of a convenience store outside Richmond, symbolically powered off his row of Queen of Virginia skill games and deactivated the Virginia Lottery machines in his establishment. Patel (38) voiced concerns in conversation with Virginia Mercury over the proposed amendments, particularly the provision to prohibit skill games within 35 miles of existing casinos and horse racing facilities, potentially impacting his store's revenue due to its proximity to the Colonial Downs race track.

The protest, spearheaded by the pro-skill game Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition, marked the latest development in Virginia's ongoing gambling debate surrounding these machines. With nearly 500 businesses participating, the protest sought to underscore the perceived adverse effects of Governor Youngkin's amendments, which proponents argue would excessively restrict skill game operations across the state.

Governor Youngkin's proposed changes include raising the tax rate on skill game machines to 35%, granting local governments or voters the authority to ban the machines, and implementing stricter regulations to prevent underage gambling and mitigate addiction. Critics contend that these amendments could effectively render skill games economically unviable in many areas of Virginia.

The conflict surrounding skill games in Virginia has deep roots, with lawmakers grappling over their legality for years. The Virginia General Assembly previously voted to ban the machines in 2020, citing concerns over their potential impact on lottery revenues and the lack of regulation.

Responding to the protest, Governor Youngkin's office emphasized the importance of establishing a regulatory framework to ensure consumer safety and grant localities a voice in the matter. If legalized, Youngkin's amendments call for the Virginia Lottery to oversee the regulation of skill games, likely delaying reactivation of the machines until well into 2025 to allow the agency to create a central monitoring system for keeping tabs on skill games.

The governor supports small business owners having access to skill games and his proposed legislative amendments, stemming from discussions with a bipartisan group of members and dozens of outside stakeholders, would establish an important regulatory framework, enhance consumer and public safety protections, and grant localities and Virginians a voice,” Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez told the cited media.

The Virginia Lottery expressed neutrality toward the protest. “The Lottery works with each individual retailer as to what works best for them, and we make it a practice not to tell retailers how to run their business,” said Virginia Lottery spokesman John Hagerty. “The Lottery has nothing to do with skill machines.”

Leave your comment
Subscribe to our newsletter
Enter your email to receive the latest news
By entering your email address, you agree to Yogonet's Condiciones de uso and Privacy Policies. You understand Yogonet may use your address to send updates and marketing emails. Use the Unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.