ROANOKE, Va. – Skill games in Virginia have been a topic of controversy for years but the latest ban on the games has not stopped some businesses from losing hope to have them.
If you’ve been to a restaurant or convenience store in Virginia, you may have seen slot-machine-looking kiosks called “skill games.” For years the machines have been an issue battled out in the General Assembly, in court, and now in the Virginia Supreme Court.
On Oct. 13, a panel of the Virginia Supreme Court issued a notice that these terminals are now banned.
Several businesses across Southwest Virginia have the games including Wolf’s Den Billiards in Roanoke. Kory Wolford is the owner of the popular billiards spot, but it wouldn’t be what it is today without the skill games.
“100%, this event…nothing would be happening at all without the Queen of Skill Games,” Wolford said.
There’s history with these machines. In 2020, Virginia passed a law banning skill-game kiosks.
When the pandemic started, that ban was pushed back, as they were a source of desperately-needed revenue for small businesses.
“This actually gave the small business guys a little step up,” Wolford said.
The Attorney General’s Office has weighed in on the issue since the Virginia Supreme Court’s Ruling. Director of Communications Victoria LaCivita sent 10 News a statement.
“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the skill games law. The Commonwealth of Virginia has regulated gambling for centuries, and the skill games law is an ordinary exercise of the General Assembly’s authority to protect the public from dangerous gambling devices,” LaCivita wrote.
Arguments opposing the skill games mostly revolve around safety, the games aren’t regulated and they aren’t taxed.
“The state should tax them,” Wolford said. “I’m perfectly okay with them taking their fair share. We have to be on a level playing field.”
Charles H. Slemp, the state’s chief deputy attorney general, sent a letter to the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys two days after the state’s Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s decision and lifted the injunction that blocked enforcement of the statewide ban.
“Until they come in and shut them off, I’ll have them,” Wolford said. “You got to imagine, there’s people that come in and eat and drink because of the machines. They come in and play.”