VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The city of Virginia Beach is giving business owners a 30-day grace period before it enforces the ban on skill games. Earlier this month the Virginia Supreme Court lifted an injunction that kept the games legal.
Starting Nov. 26 in the Resort City, any business operating with skill games could receive a civil penalty up to $25,000 per device, or a criminal penalty resulting in jail time and/or a $2,500 fine. Those caught playing the games could get fined up to $500. The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said the maximum punishment for those operating the games is up to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail.
“I will pull the plug, the minute, at midnight of the last day,” said Boyd Melchor of Kelly’s Tavern.
Melchor has been a vocal advocate of skill games and the benefits they bring to small businesses.
“Hardworking salt of the earth people in Virginia are going to go under if we pull those machines,” Melchor said.
Melchor, who rents a number of machines from a small business owner, caters to locals like Amy Brewer.
“This is terrible. It gives me a little extra income because I’m a single mother,” said Brewer, who often plays the games at Kelly’s Tavern.
Software company Pace-O-Matic designs the games found in restaurants, bars and convenience stores across the Commonwealth. A spokesperson sent us the following:
“Over the past three years, thousands of Virginia small businesses have come to rely on the revenue generated by skill games to keep their doors open and their businesses thriving. Pace-O-Matic is urging lawmakers to regulate and tax the industry to support small businesses and increase tax revenue. While we are disappointed with the recent ruling by a three-justice panel, we look forward to working with the legislature to pass commonsense regulation on skill games next session to support our small business, our economy and our communities.”Statement from Pace-O-Matic
“We can bring the taxes in, we want to be regulated, we can make this a win-win-win for everybody,” Melchor said.
10 On Your Side asked the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office if businesses would receive a letter or a phone call about the 30-day grace period. We were told the press statement released Thursday morning was the notice for the community and that “the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office wants the public to know that this is illegal gambling and beginning November 26 it will be enforced.”