Convenience store owners protest Gov. Youngkin’s amendments to skill games regulation bill

Store owners are protesting by pausing lottery ticket sales

SALEM, Va. – A message to Governor Youngkin — “This is not fair and square,” convenience store owner Dharmendra Patel said.

Dharmendra Patel owns nine convenience stores in the region — and on Monday, not a single lottery ticket was sold at any of them.

“At least give us a fair opportunity. We are not asking to open a mini-casino or game room or anything like that,” Patel said.

Patel, along with store owners across the state are protesting amendments to the skill games regulation bill from Governor Youngkin.

“It came down as a slap on our face with all these amendments that made it impossible to have skill games really anywhere in Virginia,” he said.

One of the main problems he’s having with the amendments is the 35-mile rule, which says no skill games are allowed within a 35-mile radius of a casino or game room.

But that’s not the only issue.

”He also restricted any convenience stores having skill games 2500 ft., which is half a mile from any schools, churches, daycares and things like that,” Patel said.

To put this in perspective, Patel showed us a map. The green spots on the map are where skill games are allowed to be with the amendments.

“All the small spots here, they’re all schools and churches and everything else,” he said.

That’s why Monday, they said no lottery sales to anyone — Patel said if lottery tickets are allowed, skill games should be too.

We spoke with cashier Teresa Lambert who tells us customers have been supportive.

“Sales are down, they see that. We have a lot of regulars around here, and they’re anxious for the skill games to come back.”

Lambert said she hasn’t faced any pushback.

“No, oddly enough, I really thought I would,” she said.

While stopping ticket sales for a day could seem small, Lambert said it could have thousands of dollars of revenue impact.

“I would say it’s a good chunk of my sales every day,” she said.

Stores will close Tuesday from 3:50 to 4:50 p.m. in protest as well.

It’s a nod to the 35-mile radius ban and a 35% proposed tax rate on the games.

“Pass the bill as it was approved from the Senate and the House. We don’t like these amendments that he has proposed. They’re very much pro casinos and pro deep pocket guys,” Patel said.

A spokesperson for Governor Youngkin provided the following statement to 10 News:

“The Governor supports small business owners having access to skill games and his proposed legislative amendments, stemming from discussions with a bipartisan group of members and dozens of outside stakeholders, would establish an important regulatory framework, enhance consumer and public safety protections, and grant localities and Virginians a voice.”

Christian Martinez, Press Secretary for the Governor

We also reached out to the Virginia Lottery who told us this doesn’t impact them.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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