/ Gambling News / Virginia Senate Rejects Youngkin’s Skill Games Amendments

Virginia Senate Rejects Youngkin’s Skill Games Amendments

Virginia Senate Rejects Youngkin’s Skill Games Amendments

Governor Glenn Youngkin's proposed changes could have largely excluded most of Virginia from hosting slot game providers. Image Source: The Virginia Senate, however, has struck down Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed amendments to a bill intended to legalize and tax skill-based games. Despite this setback, Youngkin retains the option to veto the bill, potentially maintaining the existing prohibition on skill games.

Skill-based gaming machines, often compared to slot machines, differentiate themselves by allowing players to select winning paylines a feature advocates argue introduces an element of skill.

These machines have largely dodged stringent regulations for years. A prohibition was enacted in 2020 and came into effect in 2021 but was paused during the COVID era before being reinstated in 2023. Now, supporters of skill games are pushing for legislative changes.

The proposed legislation would not only legalize but also impose taxes on skill games. However, Youngkin's modifications included significant restrictions, such as banning these casino games within 2,500 feet of educational and religious institutions and 35 miles of casino facilities. Additionally, he proposed a substantial tax hike to 35%, up from the 25% previously set by the General Assembly.

The governor’s stringent rules prompted a swift backlash from skill game advocates, leading to a Senate vote of 34-6 against these stricter rules.

While the governor could still veto the bill, it is more likely that legislators would reconvene to debate the issue further.

Representatives for Youngkin have voiced the governor's ongoing concerns about specific aspects of the bill but noted his willingness to reconsider some of the geographical restrictions he had suggested.

The State of Virginia Remains Split

Opinions in Virginia continue to be sharply divided. Some residents argue that skill games should be tightly controlled, while others, like Munir Rassiwala a convenience store owner and Youngkin voter express disappointment over the governor's apparent preference for larger enterprises over smaller ones.

Conversely, the group Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines has called on the governor to prioritize public safety and veto the legislation.

Delegate Paul Krizek, a vocal advocate for stricter skill game regulations, remains optimistic about reaching a compromise, asserting that “half a loaf is better than no loaf,” and suggesting potential middle ground for discussion between the governor and skill game supporters.

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