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  • Virginia Will Outlaw Skill Game Machines July 1
  • A Temporary Tax Will No Longer Be Collected
  • Operators Face Large Fines

After a few days of confusion, Virginia politicians confirmed their plan to ban skill games in the Commonwealth. Skill games – which are primarily found in gas stations and truck stops – mimic slot machines. They have operated in a legal gray area. The ‘skill’ that ostensibly separates them from slot machines involves players quickly recognizing a pattern.

Virginia is revamping its approach to gambling, approving mobile sports betting, historical horse racing machines, and land-based casinos. However, as part of its expansion, the government seeks to exert greater control over all forms of gambling. The ban on skill games comes as Virginia consolidates its power and revenue collection regime.

Virginia Gave Skills Game a Reprieve in 2020

The state first moved to ban skill games within its territory in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers chose to place a $1,200 tax on each machine.

Earlier in 2021, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam stated these machines bring in “upwards of $90 to $100 million dollars.” However, the governor supports banning these games, regardless of their revenue generation.

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Despite their economic impact, Virginia politicians want to distinguish between for-profit skill games and charitable gaming ventures.

Virginia Skill Games End in July

Notwithstanding the continued impact of the pandemic, the commonwealth will outlaw skill games starting July 1, 2021.

The state legislature first passed a gambling bill that included ambiguous language regarding skill games. Delegate Don Scott (D-Portsmouth), who sponsored the gambling bill, stated his intention was to put an end to skill game gambling.

A late attempt to continue temporary regulation and taxation of machines through 2022 failed to garner any momentum. Despite intense lobbying from operators of skill games, Governor Northam quickly amended the sloppy language. The newly passed amended bill clearly outlaws non-charitable gaming machines.

Illegal Skill Game Operators Face Prosecution

As passed, the new ban on skill games gives local authorities the power to crack down on the machines. Anyone operating an unregulated skill game machine after July 1 faces a $25,000 fine. Whether local law enforcement will enforce the new ban remains to be seen. Different jurisdictions will likely police the machines with varying degrees of thoroughness.

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Even though mobile sports betting is now allowed, Virginia is years away from opening its first casino. There will be a large hole in the state’s gaming market.

Those Virginians looking to play their favorite slot machines from their homes should check out our guides. We offer complete reviews of the best online slot sites where you can spin for real money.

Brad Vanderhide

Brad Vanderhide is an avid blackjack player and sports bettor whose only rule is to never wager on or against his beloved Cleveland Browns. With a background in politics, law, and government compliance, his writing provides a high-level overview of the changing online gambling landscape. As a native Ohioan, Brad cannot wait for his state to get out of its own way and open up legalized sport betting and online casino gaming.

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