skill game 2

It will be another six months before a judge helps settle questions about skill games machines in Virginia. 

A Greensville County judge last weekend moved a scheduled May 18 hearing on a lawsuit back until November.  When the suit was introduced earlier this year, the judge issued an injunction, which allowed skill games to continue operating until a final ruling was made.  That injunction will be extended as well.  That means skill games that were covered under the injunction will be able to operate in Virginia at least until November.

The injunction does not cover all of the skill games machines that we see in convenience stores, truck stops and other locations.  In Danville and Pittsylvania County, law enforcement and zoning officials have sent letters to owners who are operating machines that are not covered by the injunction, giving them a set amount of time to remove the machines from their businesses before facing possible fines.

Pittsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Haskins issued an opinion in March, stating that the injunction applies only to machines installed before July first of last year.  In 2020 the General Assembly allowed a limited number of “skill games” to operate for a year while being regulated by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control. Last summer all “skill game” machines became illegal.

In Pittsylvania County, 16 convenience stores have skill games machines that can be legally operated. Any other establishment with those machines is operating them illegally. All known skill game operators in Pittsylvania County were notified of this opinion several weeks ago.  They were told to shut down the machines in 15 days or be subject to civil and criminal charges for illegal gambling. That’s a class 6 felony, punishable by 1-to-10 years jail and up to a $20,000 fine.

Since the county does not require business licenses, every spot in the County that offers “skill games” is not known. There have been no reports on the number of local operated cited, if any.

Enforcement of the state ban is on hold as former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler challenges the Constitutionality of the law.  His family owns truck stops in Emporia, which feature the machines. Franklin County State Senator Bill Stanley is representing Stanley in the suit in Greensville County Circuit Court.

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