VIRGINIA (WFXR) — Nearly two years after it was first put in place, Virginia’s skill games ban is officially in effect. The video game gambling machines, commonly found in convenience stores, have to be shut off after a Virginia Supreme Court ruling last month.
That decision lifted a pause – that had been put in place by lower courts – while a lawsuit against the ban played out. The state’s supreme court ruling gave officials the ability to start immediately enforcing the skill games ban, however, some have elected to give businesses more time.
“Now, it’s up to individual localities to determine how they want to proceed regarding these skills games,” said Justin Griffith, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pulaski County. “Each county’s ability to use their own discretion is important because the positive effects for store merchants versus the negative effects of these games on store merchants are different at every store in every county.”
Henry County is giving businesses until December 1, while Lynchburg will begin enforcement at the start of the new year. However, officials in Pulaski County plan to try a case-by-case approach.
“If I hear from concerned citizens regarding a particular merchant’s skills games and the negative effect on the area, I will speak to the owner of the store, I will speak to the merchants, I will speak to law enforcement,” said Griffith.
Griffith shared that if he does have to take the civil or criminal approach, he will give the merchant reasonable time to remove the games and options they have to avoid penalties.
He hopes the community will communicate with law enforcement if they have any worries.
On the other hand, those supporting skill games are still hopeful the decision can be reversed.
There’s a court case to determine that starting next month in Richmond, brought by former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler.
“The legitimate businesses who run this game, we want to be taxed, we want to be regulated, and we want to as much everyone else, do away with illegal operators, and we intend to do that after we get to the end of this lawsuit,” explained Sadler.
Sadler said the ban will have negative impacts on mom-and-pop businesses like the ones his family has owned and operated since the 80s. He said he believes it should be up to the consumer to decide how they want to spend their money and the right of small businesses to compete in a free market.
His trial is set to begin in December.