RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of small business owners and Senator Joe Morrissey were in Richmond Monday morning protesting the state’s decision to ban skill games. About 100 business owners were present at the protest.

During the press conference, Sen. Morrissey called for Attorney General Mark Herring to declare Virginia’s skill games ban unconstitutional. He says the ban unfairly targets minority businesses, saying that one state senate member went as far to use an ethnic slur as a nickname for the bill.

“It is unfathomable that the Attorney General refuses to investigate or file a civil rights violation,” Morrissey said.

Some lawmakers who supported the ban on skill games claimed they were operating in the grey and siphoning off money from lottery revenues. Others fear the machines are often in low-income communities and prey on minorities.

The store owners protesting the ban questioned why online betting and casinos are now allowed in Virginia but skill games are not. Earlier this year, the ban prompted a lawsuit filed on behalf of former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler.

“We are hardworking Americans,” said business owner Ezzadin Alsaad. He and others held signs that read “Stop Asian and Muslim hate against skill game operators.”

“The people who were left out are these small business owners who represent the fabric of Virginia,” Morrissey said.

Alsaad said the ban has caused him to lose 30% of his revenue. He addressed Herring saying that small business owners voted for him to stand with them and not against them.

Alsaad said that skilled games kept his business afloat during the pandemic. Now, they are having to let some of their workforce go.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.

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