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Virginia Lawmakers Legalize, Regulate Skill Games

Maryland lawmakers are walking back a ban on skill games and replacing it with a regulated environment that allows small businesses to maintain a critical source of revenue. The move comes four years after the state banned all skill games; a ban that was delayed multiple times due to the pandemic.

Under the terms of SB212, businesses with liquor licenses and truck stops will be eligible to have skill games on their premises. Businesses with liquor licenses would be allowed to maintain four machines, while truck stops would be allowed ten machines. There’s a relatively steep $100,000 licensing fee that could prove a barrier to entry for some small businesses, but is not insurmountable. Once the machines are up and running, their revenue would be taxed at 25 percent.

Though the lifting of the skill game ban will be a boon to some small businesses, it may not be available to every truck stop or business with a liquor license. Local governments would still have the opportunity to ban the machines in their municipalities.

SB212 is a big win for small businesses, like bars and restaurants, that are continuously on the hunt for new revenue. Virginia Merchants and Amusements Coalition President Rich Kelly praised the bill saying, “This skill game bill will allow Virginia’s small business owners, many of whom are first-generation Americans, to keep their doors open, their employees working, and continue contributing to the community.”

Virginian Governor Glann Youngkin was less enthusiastic about the move overall. In a statement reported on by the Royal Examiner he expressed his individual concerns saying, “The administration has serious concerns with both the House and Senate versions of the bill. There are numerous issues to work through including the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of machines, impact on the Virginia Lottery and broader public safety implications.”