Why Virginia State Residents may keep Real Money Skill Games in 2022
By RealMoneyGames – Steve Cross
The US Gambling industry really found its feet in recent years, with income from gambling activities to regulated states breaking all records. Sports betting, online casino gaming, and poker all contributed their fair share to revenues, with gamblers and players in states with legalized gambling taking their full chances to make their attempts to win some cash.
Of course, most gambling games are based on luck or chance. But there are options to play skill games for money online are plentiful too. Real money skill games definitely may have some appeal for residents of Virginia, who are still waiting for any sign of truly regulated and legal gambling in the state. Playing any type of game where skills are needed to win results in the greatest chances of winning a cash prize.
Fortunately, the options to play games of skill with real money prizes are open still to Virginians since their introduction during the COVID pandemic as a potential source of VA state income.
How did skill games for money in Virginia become legal?
The original introduction of cash prize skill games in Virginia was only supposed to be temporary, and appeared in the form of skill gaming terminals in convenience stores, truck stops, and other similar establishments. The gaming terminals are essentially a form of real money video slot machine, but have elements of skill built into the game-play. This means that adept and skillful players on the machines have a better chance of winning rather that if they were playing standard slots which payout purely on luck based on random number generators.
Virginia state levied fees against these terminals, resulting in well over $100 million for state coffers. On July 1st 2021, the state-authorized order that legalized their use expired. They did not become immediately illegal though, with a Virginia county judge calling the validity of the ban into question by supporting a temporary injunction against it.
Hence, if you’re in Virginia, right now the playing of skill games for money is still legal.
In fact, no government bodies are actually monitoring the use of the terminals. The situation is a bit of a mess, with the oversight originally being in the hands of Virginia’s Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), who lost control when the ban was re-implemented. No state body was subsequently placed in charge.
But will the skill-game terminals stay legal?
There appear to be sound enough arguments that the ban was never appropriate in the first place. Not surprisingly, some of the loudest opponents to the ban against skill game machines in VA are those that stand to gain from the games being legal. One of these is a former NASCAR driver named Hermie Sadler. He’s the owner of Sadler Brothers Oil stores with a presence throughout the state. In late 2021, Sadler argued that the ban violates the first amendment, and a Greensville County judge supported a ruling which agreed with him.
One of the main points of this argument is based on these skill game terminals offering an experience similar to that of arcade games. The whole point of them is that skill is needed in order to win, and we know from the views of other countries on skill gaming that it’s often not treated in the same way as pure luck-based gambling from a legalization perspective.
An additional argument made was that other forms of gambling were being allowed or were building potential to be allowed. These other forms of gambling include lotteries, sports betting, and casinos complete with standard casino games like slot machines and well-known table games.
There is sure to be a strong fight from the owners of the businesses that run the terminals in premises. They’re good money spinners, for sure. They face a battle though, since the re-implementation of the ban was agreed by both Republicans and Democrats. That’s a formidable combination for anyone to go up against.
Another issue facing Sadler and his supporters is that the ban on gaming machines was passed with bipartisan support in both houses. It is, unfortunately, a rare sight to see Democrats and Republicans work toward a common goal these days. Their mutual opposition to skill gaming machines could spell trouble for Sadler.
What’s the argument against keeping skill game terminals?
Although business owners seem to have a say in what goes on in Virginia state, they face some pretty heavy opposition. Those who oppose the idea of keeping the games legal include powerful state attorneys who have a lot more input at a legal level.
The obvious argument for banning the real money skill game terminals completely is the one that says they offer cash prizes, so are essentially gambling-related. The other argument is the one that says the business owners fighting to keep the terminal are only doing so because of the profits they make, and not because of any civil liberty concerns.
Another input to the situation concerns land-based casinos. Four were constructed in 2021, and there were fears that the continuing use of the terminals would divert gamblers’ cash away from these casinos.
When is the final verdict on Virginia cash prize skill gaming due?
It could take until the current injunction ends in May 2022 for this state of affairs to be fully resolved, one way or another. But January 2022 will see law-makers debating the issue further, and it’s possible there could be an earlier conclusion.
There’s some in-depth info on skill-gaming regulations on the official skill games FAQ page of the Virginia Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.
Details of some of the slots terminals in use in Virginia can be found on the Queen of Virginia skill games website.