Virginia convenience stores close to protest skill game amendment

Youngkin’s amendments would impose a 35% tax on skill games and ban them within 35 miles of a casino or horse racetrack.

NORFOLK, Va. — The skill game machines at Race Coast Mart on E. Little Creek Road in Norfolk sits dark and untouched, and on Tuesday afternoon owners locked the convenience store’s doors. 

“Revenue wise, I’m down 25 to 30%,” owner Japan Joshi told 13News Now.  

On Monday, hundreds of convenience stores throughout Virginia refused to sell lottery tickets in protest of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed amendments to Senate Bill 212. It would impose a 35% tax on skill games and ban them within 35 miles of a casino or horse racetrack. 

On Tuesday, those stores protested again, closing from 3:50-4:50 p.m.  

“He’s telling us, ‘you are closed, you’re not able to operate the skill games,’” said Joshi.  

Youngkin’s proposed amendments suggest a 35% tax on skill games, up 10% from the bill’s original proposal. Youngkin also recommends banning skill games within a 35-mile radius of casinos and horse racing tracks and 2,500 feet of churches or daycare centers. Protesters chose the one-hour time window in reference to the 35-mile restriction.  

“Every store in (Hampton) Roads is less than 35 miles (from a casino),” explained Joshi, referencing Rivers Casino in Portsmouth. “Revenue is definitely down and I’m not able to hire new employees.” 

Champs Sports Bar & Grill in Virginia Beach stayed open Tuesday, but owner Richard Green says business has slowed since unplugging gaming machines. 

“It’s been very rough,” Green said. “Especially during the daytime. We used to have customers come in and grab a sandwich, play the machine while they were waiting. We don’t see those. Business is off like 20, 25%.” 

Youngkin’s office issued the following statement to 13News Now:  

“The governor supports small business owners having access to skill games and his proposed legislative amendments, stemming from discussions with a bipartisan group of members and dozens of outside stakeholders, would establish an important regulatory framework, enhance consumer and public safety protections, and grant localities and Virginians a voice,” said Christian Martinez, Gov. Youngkin’s Press Secretary. 

Youngkin’s amendments propose the tax revenue from skill game machines be distributed as follows: 

  • 5% of gross profits go to the Gaming Regulatory Fund 

  • 5% of gross profits goes to the College Partnership Laboratory School Fund 

  • The remaining 25% of gross profits are split as follows (to equal 100%):  

  • 15% to the Department of Taxation for distribution to the locality in which the host location operates 

  • 2.5% to Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund 

  • 75% to the Elementary and Secondary Education Fund 

  • 2.5% to the Department of State Police 

  • 5% to the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund 

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