Here’s how Roanoke will enforce the skill game ban

ROANOKE, Va. – The City of Roanoke has released further information about how it plans to reinforce the skill game ban in our area.

This comes after the Virginia Supreme Court voted to reinstate a ban on the games in October following years of controversy on whether to allow the gambling devices in the Commonwealth.

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While the ban will resume in many Virginia localities at the start of 2024, the timeline has been left up to jurisdictions to decide. It is currently unclear when it will be reinforced in the City of Roanoke again, but 10 News has reached out to the Roanoke Police Department for clarification.

The Star City will adopt a “common sense approach,” meaning that local law enforcement expects individuals and/or businesses to cease the operation of illegal electronic skill games in an act of “voluntary compliance.”

Otherwise, locations that continue to operate skill games in direct violation of the law will be given notice and then prosecuted if they do not take heed of said warning.

Ultimately, the Roanoke Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office’s sole priority is the prosecution of violent crimes. Therefore, when it comes to illegal electronic skill games, they will focus mostly on “locations that have a history and connection to violent incidents.”

Here’s a look at the full press release from the City of Roanoke:

This press release is intended to advise the general public that Roanoke Police Chief Scott Booth and members of his senior staff met last Wednesday afternoon with Donald Caldwell, the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney and his Chief Assistant John McNeil to discuss a common sense approach to the enforcement of illegal electronic skill games which has been the subject of much discussion across the Commonwealth during the past two months.

It is important for the public to understand that electronic skill games are now clearly illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Individuals who continue to offer illegal electronic skill games to the public currently run the risk of being charged with a violation of the law. Those who choose to ignore the law do so at their own risk.

However, the law enforcement priority of the Roanoke Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office clearly has to be the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes. Consequently, the initial law enforcement focus relative to illegal electronic skill games will be centered around locations that have a history and connection to violent incidents.

The Roanoke Police Department is an agency that seeks to provide education ahead of enforcement. Locations that continue to operate illegal electronic skill games will be given notice to cease operation or face prosecution. It is the hope of both the police department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office that this issue will be resolved by voluntary compliance.

RPD & the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office

When asked about the enforcement start date, Roanoke Police sent 10 News the following: “We will use available data and intel on each location and work with both the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and business owners to develop a reasonable timeline for enforcement. There is no set date, but business owners can expect communication from our department regarding the enforcement soon.”

About the Author:

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.