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Virginia Governor Weighs in on Skill Games Bill

Regulated skill games are likely on their way to convenience stores in Virginia but before they do, Governor Glenn Youngkin has some notes on how that roll out should look. Late last week, Governor Youngkin added several amendments to SB 212, and made life a whole tougher for skill game operators along the way.

SB 212 breezed through the Virginia House and Senate earlier this month but was bounced back after Governor Youngkin added his two cents to the subject of skill games. His amendments to the bill include a statewide cap of 20,000 machines and prohibits their presence near schools, horse tracks, churches and casinos. (Are skill games really that big a threat to land-based casinos or churches? Clearly some successful lobbying happened here.)

Youngkin’s amendments also include boosting the tax rate on skill game revenue to 35 percent. In prior versions of SB 212, operators were only taxed 25 percent. Revenue raised from skill game taxes would be used to fund pre-school education in the state and operators would be required to pay a $9,000 licensing fee – which sounds like one of the biggest bargains in the US gaming industry.

In comments reported on by the Virginia Mercury, Governor Youngkin’s spokesman Chris Martinez commented on the proposed skill game changes saying, “His proposed amendments represent necessary changes and the added protections to the legislation address his serious concern with the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of machines, impact on the Virginia Lottery and broader public safety implications of the proposal.”

While anti-skill game groups like Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines praised the proposed changes, gaming industry supporters derided them as too draconian to work.