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Sen. Joe Morrissey, small business owners protest skill games ban

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Senator Joe Morrissey and dozens of small business owners gathered in front of Attorney General Mark Herring’s office downtown on Monday morning to protest against Virginia’s ban on skill games, which went into effect on July 1.

Senate Bill 971 bans skills games and shut down skill game machines at any businesses other than family entertainment centers.

During the protest, Morrissey said the ban is placing an economic hardship on small business owners.

“We’re not going to let our small business owners in Virginia fail,” Morrissey said.

Ezaddin Alsaad, a local business owner, says he lost between 25 to 30 percent of his income as a result of the skills game ban.

“Because the machines are gone, we don’t have enough income to operate and we don’t have enough income to pay the employees,” he said. “Now, we have to let go of some of the employees.”

Morrissey is also calling on Herring to investigate discrimination through the Office of Civil Rights. Business owners, like Alsaad, says the ban discriminates against minority-owned businesses.

“It is unfathomable that the Attorney General refuses to investigate or file a civil rights violation,” Morrisey said. “I call upon Mark Herring to immediately certify under the Virginia Human Rights Act that he will conduct an investigation and join with and not fight these minority business owners in the Commonwealth.”

NBC12 reached out to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office for comment.

A spokesperson said they generally don’t comment on pending civil rights investigations, even to confirm whether or not one may be ongoing.

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