Virginia lawmakers in the General Assembly are committed to banning skilled games in 2021. Many video lottery terminals are located in convenience stores, bars and other small businesses in the state by the company Queen of Virginia.
Virginia Lawmakers, including Governor Ralph Northam, seek to eliminate them, despite the games being a source of income amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, what exactly are skilled games in the state of Virginia? Skilled games are considered any game (particularly a video terminal) that takes a person’s money and provides cash in return.
More specifically, House Bill 881 defines a skill game as an electronic, computerized, or mechanical contrivance, terminal, machine, or other device that requires the insertion of a coin, currency, ticket, token, or similar object to operate, activate, or play a game, the outcome of which is determined by any element of skill of the player and that may deliver or entitle the person playing or operating the device to receive cash; cash equivalents, gift cards, vouchers, billets, tickets, tokens, or electronic credits to be exchanged for cash; merchandise; or anything of value whether the payoff is made automatically from the device or manually.
Representatives from Queen of Virginia, the company responsible for many of Virginia’s gaming terminals say their machines are superior to what their competitors would offer (think slot and poker machines without a ‘skill-testing’ aspect), and questioned the assembly on whether that’s a change they’d like to see. Although some of these games have features that resemble slots or other ‘instantly gratifying’ games, they require players to remember and input a sequence of patterns to unlock the next game, prizes or other game features.
Like we mention above, these machines have contributed to the state’s economy and are part of the state’s Covid-19 Relief Fund, and are allowed to operate until July 1, 2021. Distributors must not relocate skill game machines in excess of 20% of the total number of skill games initially registered.
Why Ban Virginia Skill Games?
So, why the sudden ban on skilled games in Virginia? These games are helping businesses thrive—One bar and grill owner in Virginia has been able to offer an employee a dental plan, while other business owners have been able to increase wages and do renovations.
However, Virginia lawmakers say Virginia Skill Games are taking money away from lottery-ticket sales that typically help fund schools, and say sales have dropped 11.3% in the past year. They also say it will be too expensive to fully regulate them as they have the lottery.
Virginia Lawmakers to Vote on Casino Gaming Measure
As of September 2020, there are no land-based casinos in Virginia. But that might change in the coming months.
On November 3, 2020 Virginia residents in 4 cities—Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol will have a chance to vote on whether or not land-based casinos will operate in their city in an Order of Referendum for casinos. Residents will be able to vote in favor of supporting casino gaming at a casino establishment located in their city, or opposing it.
Currently, there are various bodies in each city campaigning for, and against, land-based casinos in their respective cities.