Virginia officially banned skill gaming machines on 1st Jul this year. The ban came after about a year when the state had allowed the controversial devices to run amid the COVID-19 pandemic to offset losses caused by the pandemic.
Now that the skill gaming terminals are gone, small businesses are reporting a decline in overall revenue. Keyur Patel, the owner of Virginia Food Mart in Richmond recently told WRIC that the customers who used to play the machines ended up buying snacks and beverages from his store. His revenue has now dropped by over 25 percent since skill games were powered down.
However, one state lawmaker believes he has a solution for this. Virginia Senator John Bell (D-Prince William County) believes that allowing VGTs can offset losses. VGTs operate like slots machines and are also taxed and regulated. Seven states in the US permit VGTs outside casinos. Bell believes that Virginia should be the eighth state.
After visiting Illinois, Bell reported to the Senate Committee on Laws and Technology that VGTs are diverse and different from skill games machines. Bell believes the VGTs will help small businesses that had grey machines to recover revenues. Bell’s proposal has, however, failed to garner traction in the 2021 legislative session. Bell plans to reintroduce the proposal in the 2022 session.