The Virginia Attorney General’s Office is recommending the Commonwealth’s Attorneys delay “the enforcement” to ban skill games in the state until Nov. 15, according to a letter issued Sunday. The delay would give business owners time to remove the machines before prosecutors enforce the ban. The AG’s letter comes just days after the Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated a ban on skill games in the state on Friday.
“Because these games are located in businesses throughout the commonwealth, the Attorney General recommends that Commonwealth’s Attorneys delay enforcement until Nov. 15, allowing businesses an adjustment period to comply with this order,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck Slemp wrote in a letter to the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys.
Virginia sports betting has been legal and regulated since 2021.
AG Wants Orderly Transition
The period leading up to Nov. 15 intends to facilitate an orderly transition and to ensure all affected businesses have adequate time to comply with the law, Slemp added.
Slemp is scheduled to meet with state officials this week to discuss the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia concerning the lawsuit brought forward by Sadler Brothers Oil Company. Sadler Brothers Oil Company is owned and operated by former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler. Sadler filed a lawsuit in 2021 stating the ban on skill games violates the free speech clause of the Virginia Constitution. His case is scheduled to be heard in December.
Skill games, similar to slot machines in casinos, have been operating in Virginia under an injunction granted by Greensville County Circuit Court that heard Sadler’s case in December 2021. The Supreme Court of Virginia overruled Greensville County Court’s decision Friday and lifted the injunction which now reinstates the ban on the games. Although sports wagering is legal in the state, there are no legal Virginia online casinos.
Skill Machines Operate Throughout Virginia
An estimated 9,000 skill game machines operate throughout Virginia, some in bars, convenience stores, gas stations, and restaurants. They are like casino slot machines, but skill games provide a cash reward based on the player’s skill. Casino slot machines payout cash on the chance the machine hits the right combination on an internal random number generator or RNG.
Skill games have been an ongoing debate in the state. There are currently 14 Virginia sportsbook apps and three retail sportsbooks operating in the state.
In addition to sports betting, five casinos have been approved to operate in Virginia. Three locations, Hard Rock’s Bristol Casino, Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Caesars Virginia’s Danville Casino are already open. Combined, the three locations provide 3,194 slot machines to visitors. The two remaining casinos are planned in Norfolk and Richmond. In addition to slot machines and skill games, there are 2,634 Historical Horse Racing gambling machines available in the state at seven Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums.