Virginia To Ban Electronic Gaming Machines In 2021

At the start of 2020, the Virginia General Assembly discussed banning the 9,000-plus electronic gaming machines operating in the state. However, in April, lawmakers decided to allow the machines to continue to operate for one more year to provide additional revenue for Covid-19 services.

Legislators determined the companies making the machines could place them in convenience stores, restaurants and truck stops until July 1. According to the Virginia Department of Taxation, in July the games generated about $12 million in tax revenue, which mostly went into the new Covid-19 relief fund.

Manufacturers of the machines claim they are games of skill, and therefore not banned by the state’s prohibition on gambling.

Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment urged the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to closely monitor the machines to ensure operators are paying taxes on them and are not installing more of them. State Senator Janet Howell, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, assured committee members that she and Governor Ralph Northam still agree that the machines will be banned by next June.

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