Virginia Gov Pushing for Changes to Proposed Skill Games Legislation

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has introduced substantial amendments to the legislation that would legalize skill games in the state. He is proposing stringent regulations that aim to reshape the future of the games, although they may not be enough to clear a path for approval.

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The governor's amendments seek to enforce a higher tax rate of 35% on the revenue generated from these machines, a significant increase from what was previously proposed by lawmakers. This move is indicative of the governor's intent to exert greater control over the operation of skill games, which have been a subject of much debate.

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The amendments also include provisions that would allow localities the autonomy to prohibit these machines. The revised language would give them the power to decide whether or not these games align with their community standards and economic interests.

Furthermore, the governor has proposed placement restrictions, effectively banning skill games within approximately a half-mile radius of churches, daycare centers and houses of worship, as well as in areas close to existing gambling establishments like casinos. These restrictions reflect the administration's concerns regarding the potential social impact and the appropriateness of the locations for such devices.

The governor's office has stated that these amendments are designed to address serious issues related to the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of gaming machines allowed and their impact on the state lottery and public safety. The proposed legislative changes have sparked a dialogue among small business owners, some of whom rely on the income from skill games and fear that the new restrictions could severely impact their livelihoods.

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Amendments Face Resistance

Despite the governor's clear stance on the matter, supporters of skill games have expressed their determination to challenge the amendments. They argue that the proposed changes could amount to a de facto ban on skill games, thereby affecting not only the businesses that host these machines but also the customers who enjoy them.

A group that opposes the legalization of skill games, which includes the state's casinos, stated that they are still examining the amendments proposed. They expressed gratitude for the governor's more careful consideration of the matter, particularly regarding a measure that they believe would have significantly expanded gambling in Virginia.

If both branches of the legislature approve all of Youngkin's proposed amendments during their upcoming session, the bill, with the amendments incorporated, will be enacted into law. However, if lawmakers only approve certain amendments, the bill will be sent back to Youngkin, who will then have the option to either sign it into law or veto it.


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