Enforcement of Virginia ban on skill gaming machines set to start Wednesday

In October, the Supreme Court of Virginia made that final ruling that bans them.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 3:04 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - You can’t use your skills on those gambling machines you can find in stores anymore. Starting Wednesday, a ban on skill machine games can start being enforced.

“So what that means now is that skill games that you see in convenience stores for example, that everybody seems to be playing, that’s clearly unlawful gambling now,” said Steven Benjamin, NBC12 Legal Analyst.

In October, the Supreme Court of Virginia made that final ruling that bans them. But Virginia’s Attorney General issued an opinion delaying enforcement until Nov. 15.

Since then, police departments and sheriff’s offices across the state have grappled with how best to deal with the law change.

“To do it in a way that it’s not going to be a surprise. No one should be surprised if they get cited. There will be plenty of time for education and to ensure they are just in compliance with the new law,” said Chief Rick Edwards, Richmond Police Department.

Richmond’s police chief won’t reveal a specific enforcement date but says they will give owners and operators time to adjust.

“We understand this was kind of sudden for some of our business owners. So it’s important for us to make sure we get that message out to the business owners and patrons,” said Edwards.

In Hanover County, the sheriff says compliance checks start January 1, 2024. It’s a similar decision for police in Hopewell, saying enforcement will begin December 31, 2023.

Chesterfield Police are planning an unspecified grace period before enforcement starts. Henrico Police plan to talk with area businesses for voluntary compliance before enforcing.

Once that period is over, a skill game machine operator or owner would face a class 1 misdemeanor and fines of up to $25,000.

“So it’s only fair that the public and business owners have some reasonable time to make adjustments and to get notification that these machines are unlawful and that people will be prosecuted,” said Benjamin.

If you are caught using one of those machines, you could be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor, and face a fine of up to $500.