Lawsuit challenging Virginia’s skill game ban will continue into 2023

Emporia’s Sadler Travel Plaza, part of the lawsuit challenging Virginia’s skill-game ban, has...
Emporia’s Sadler Travel Plaza, part of the lawsuit challenging Virginia’s skill-game ban, has had the machines for roughly two decades, according to court filings.(Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:53 AM EST
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A judge on Monday declined to dismiss a lawsuit claiming Virginia’s ban on slots-like skill machines violates free speech and indicated a state senator’s involvement in the case means it won’t go to trial until after the 2023 General Assembly session is over.

At a hearing Monday morning in Greensville County Circuit Court, Judge Louis Lerner also rejected a claim the General Assembly violated the Virginia Constitution by quietly adding legislation to the most recent state budget that sought to reinforce the purported illegality of the machines that have proliferated in Virginia convenience stores, truck stops and sports bars.

Lerner said he had serious concerns about the argument but ultimately concluded it wasn’t the court’s role to try to force the General Assembly to legislate in the open.

“Government at any level should not be doing business in the dark,” Lerner said from the bench. “But once again, I’m not going to peek into that closet.”

But after siding with the state on that issue, Lerner said he continues to see merit in the skill-game industry’s arguments that the ban violates free speech by seeking to classify a particular type of video game as illegal gambling.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)