VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia’s Supreme Court has brought back the ban on skilled games. This comes during an ongoing legal battle between the state and businesses.
The electronic machines are often found in restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores and operate in a gray area of the law because there are no regulations.
The business owners we spoke with say this ban is going to hurt a lot of people and it’s a missed opportunity for the state to tax these games.
“These things got us through the COVID,” said Kelly’s Tavern owner Boyd Melchor. “Right now, they’re helping to pay out rent if not all our rent and a lot of people are not going to make it.”
Melchor has been vocal about the controversy surrounding skill games that he rents for his business.
“It’s going to affect us enormously,” Melchor said. “We’re going to make it but we give raises here. We’re paying top dollar for everybody. It’s going to affect everybody.”
Melchor questions the ban and why the state won’t regulate and tax the games.
“The Commonwealth has an opportunity for $150 million, $200 million handed to them on a silver platter,” Melchor said. “We want to pay taxes on these things. We want to enforce the age, we want to make sure the machines are legal and comply with all the regulations that we possibly can.”
Richard Green, who owns Champs Sports Bar & Grill on Northampton Boulevard, agrees. The bar has a handful of rented skill games like Kelly’s Tavern.
“I think it’s unfair,” Green told 10 On Your Side in a phone interview. “You just can’t pick and choose.”
Green said that while his business won’t take a hit with the ban now in place, he plans to reach out to legislators to change it.
“We’ll do what the law says and that’s it,” Green said.
We reached out to the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares to find out how the ban will be enforced. We were sent the following statement:
“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the skill games law. The Commonwealth of Virginia has regulated gambling for centuries, and the skill games law is an ordinary exercise of the General Assembly’s authority to protect the public from dangerous gambling devices. The law is now in effect, and Commonwealth’s Attorneys are free to enforce it.”