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Former NASCAR driver files lawsuit against Virginia for upcoming ban on skill games

The lawsuit claims the bill is ‘is unconstitutional as a matter of law, and is therefore unforceable’

Former NASCAR driver files lawsuit against Virginia for upcoming skill games ban
Former NASCAR driver files lawsuit against Virginia for upcoming skill games ban

GREENSVILLE COUNTY, Va. – Queen of Virginia Skills & Entertainment, the largest distributor of skill games in the Commonwealth, announced Friday that its machines will soon be banned.

Senate Bill 971, which will ban skill games at any kinds of businesses other than family entertainment centers, is slated to go into effect on July 1.

A skill game, as defined in the bill, is an electronic or computerized machine that requires payment to play or activate a game that requires an element of skill from the player to receive cash, cash equivalents or anything of value. Essentially, the outcome, or how much money a player receives, is determined by the player’s skill.

According to the bill signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, business owners across Virginia who have these skill games in their stores are going to have to say goodbye to their machines, including former NASCAR driver and Emporia business owner, Hermie Sadler.

Sadler, along with his attorney Bill Stanley, filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and the Virginia ABC on Monday morning in the Greensville County Circuit Court.

In the press release Sadler’s lawyer sent out, the lawsuit claims the bill, signed by Northam, “is unconstitutional as a matter of law, and is therefore unforceable.” It also says this move will adversely affect hundreds of small business owners, as well as convenience stores, truck stops, restaurants and bars, throughout the Commonwealth.

Sadler, who owns a truck stop, argued this bill creates an “impermissable” restriction on the video games allowed in Virginia, saying it discriminates against businesses that don’t market towards family-friendly content.

“While a truck stop or a convenience store may not be as fancy as a Hard Rock or Bally’s Casino, they should not be excluded from this marketplace,” he said.

Virginia lawmakers agreed to ban the games during the 2020 General Assembly session; however, Northam proposed taxing them for one year to help businesses make money for COVID-19 relief.

“Whether you are for or against the legalization of gambling in Virginia, both the legislature and executive branch have spoken, legalizing the multi-billion dollar industries of sports betting, horse racing, slot machines and casino gambling,” Sadler said. “But inexplicably, Virginia has determined that skill games, games that have been legal in the Commonwealth for decades, are now somehow ‘undesirable,’ and should be made illegal. This action is unfair, and quite frankly, unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit states that the ban on skills games would be violating due process or fair treatment under the law, arguing that it’s unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

“This is a fight worth fighting to protect the rights of all Virginia small business owners and operators,” Sadler wrote in a Tweet.

To read the bill in its entirety, click here.

About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.