Gov. Glenn Youngkin amends Virginia skill game machines bill

Virginia Governor Youngkin Skill Games
Image: Michael Robb Photography / Shutterstock

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is aiming to amend a proposed skill games bill.

Youngkin has proposed new standards for a skill games measure after the General Assembly sent him the measure last month. Senate Bill 212, introduced by Sen. Aaron Rouse, authorizes the distribution and regulation of skill game machines in the Old Dominion. The bill, which hit the desk of lawmakers in January, lifts a ban on skill game machines that Virginia lawmakers implemented statewide in 2021. The ban stems from their resemblance to slot machines and whether the games actually require “skill.”

Earlier this month, the Virginia House and Senate passed SB 212 but now the measure is expected to undergo framework changes.  

Youngkin’s amendments provide local communities with the opportunity to vote on the integration of skill game machines with a maximum of 20,000 permitted to operate statewide. Skill game machines would be taxed at a 35% rate on gross receipts, up from a previous 25%. The tax proceeds are to be allocated toward the PreK-12 Priority Fund.

The governor proposes to ban the operation of skill game machines near schools, places of worship, horse racing tracks, and casinos. Operators are required to pay a $9,000 licensing fee under Youngkin’s amendments with oversight from the Virginia Lottery. A previous iteration of SB 212 proposed regulation by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

“His proposed amendments represent necessary changes and the added protections to the legislation address his serious concern with the regulatory structure, tax rates, the number of machines, impact on the Virginia Lottery, and broader public safety implications of the proposal,” said Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez.

The General Assembly will consider Youngkin’s amendments on April 17. Once the General Assembly votes on the matter, Youngkin has the opportunity to sign or veto the measure. In order to override a veto, the measure has to pass by a two-thirds majority.

Support and opposition of skill games in Virginia

Youngkin’s amendments are drawing both backlash and support from Virginians.

“My co-sponsors, our bipartisan coalition, and I will work together to make sure the harmful provisions put into place by Gov. Youngkin do not advance, and we will do everything possible to make the interests of small businesses, not casinos or massive out-of-state, corporations, a priority,” said Rouse following Youngkin’s amendments.

Local business owners also have offered opinions on the matter with many advocating for the open operation of skill game machines as they create an additional revenue stream.

Youngkin has garnered support for the amendments from Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines. The group, which actively campaigns against the authorization of skill games, has backed Youngkin’s amendments to the measure.