Senate rejects Youngkin’s tougher skill game rules

The state Senate on Wednesday rejected Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s amendments that would toughen state oversight when Virginia legalizes skill games.

The 34 votes against Youngkin’s proposals versus six supporting them move the measure back to the governor, who has the power to veto the measure.

Sen. Aaron Rouse, D-Virginia Beach

Sen. Aaron Rouse, D-Virginia Beach, sponsored the Senate version of the skill games legislation.

If he does, there is no opportunity to override it.

Skill games are the slot-machine-like electronic gaming devices that the General Assembly banned in 2020. A Greensville County judge barred the state from enforcing the ban but the Virginia Supreme Court reinstated the ban late last year.

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Zach Smith plays a skill game at a 7-Eleven in Henrico County.

Zach Smith plays an electronic skill game at a 7-Eleven in Henrico County in 2022. Legalizing slot machine-like skill games – possibly the hardest-fought battle of the 2024 General Assembly session — raised big questions for Gov. Youngkin but in the end, he decided some proposed amendments could make it more palatable.

Youngkin’s amendments would boost taxes on the machines, dramatically raise the licensing fees stores and truck stops pay and cut the number of machines they can install.

The governor also is proposing strict geographic limitations that would bar the machines within 35 miles of other gaming sites, such as casinos, Rosie’s gaming emporiums or horse tracks.

The governor also wanted to prevent the machines from being close to schools or houses of worship.

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