ROANOKE, Va. – Commonwealth’s Attorney offices across Southwest Virginia are determining timelines to enforce a ban on skill games.
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 and in court.
In October, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled to reinstate a ban on the games. However, various jurisdictions have been setting their own timelines of when to actually enforce it.
Roanoke City has still yet to determine a date.
“We have received guidance from the Office of the Attorney General regarding this topic, and are working with our Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to develop the best strategy to address this ban. There are multiple locations in the City of Roanoke that this ban would affect, so we are working to create the best, most comprehensive plan for this enforcement.”Caityln Cline, Public Information Officer for Roanoke City Police
Pulaski County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Justin Griffith, plans to try a case-by-case approach.
“There’s a difference between a store having one or two machines in the corner that customers can come in the store and purchase any merchandise and not have to walk by … versus a store that has a dozen of the skill games machines in the middle that you have to walk in-between and duck and dodge around to get items for sale,” Griffith said.
Lynchburg is enforcing the ban when the new year hits. Henry County will start enforcement on Dec. 1.
Henry County’s Attorney, George Lyle suggests people use other routes to gamble responsibly.
“These machines are illegal, bad for our community, and should not be patronized. For those who enjoy responsible wagering there are lawful ways that also help support our community such as lottery tickets, where profits fund public education and sales support local business,” Lyle said.
The punishments for having and playing skill games are common throughout these areas.
Language in the state code will allow law enforcement to seize machines and recover a civil penalty of “up to $25,000 per device.” Those caught playing the games when the ban is in place could be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor for illegal gambling which could carry up to a $500 fine.