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THE GAMALYZE CHALLENGE

Legislative Push to Legalize Skill Gambling Games in Virginia

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A debate is taking place in Virginia regarding the legalization of “gray machines”, games that resemble slot machines but are not entirely dependent on luck and do involve some skill.

There are competing legislative proposals, backed by different gambling companies, which would allow these games to be offered at venues ranging from truck stops to convenience stores. The games were banned in 2020, but despite this, more and more of them have been appearing.

Related: Virginia’s Cruise Ship Casino Plan Could Be Dead in the Water

A Choice of Regulatory Authority

The games’ manufacturers insist that skill is required; however, as they exist in a legal grey area, there is a great deal of debate regarding oversight and taxation.

Sen. Aaron Rose has put forward a proposal, co-sponsored by Sen. L. Louise Lucas, that would see the games regulated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. His plan would allow venues with ABC licenses to house a limited number of terminals, and revenue would be taxed at 15%.

Those in favor of the plan claim it would bring in significant money for the state and also benefit small businesses.

A competing bill from Democratic Sen. Jeremy McPike would see both skill games and slot-like games regulated by the Virginia Lottery Board and taxed at a far higher rate of 34%. The bill would give local governments the power to ban the machines if they so wished, and it also contains strict player identification requirements.

Significant Opposition to Both Bills

Unsurprisingly, land-based casinos have come out against the proposals, and there are also objections from groups concerned about gambling harms and gambling-related crime.

Last October, the Supreme Court of Virginia restored the ban on slot-like skill games, overruling a lower court decision in the process. As such, it seems likely that both legislative proposals face an uphill struggle.

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