Virginia Convenience Stores Halt Lottery Sales Over Skill Games Ban

Retailers will resume selling tickets once governor, General Assembly agree on path forward on legislation permitting the activity
virginia lottery skill games convenience stores
Photograph courtesy of Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition

Update: Following discussions with the legislative leaders, who have been in talks with the governor, we are anticipating a resolution within the next 3-4 weeks during the next special session. In light of those developments, the VA MAC members have decided to pause the lottery protest at this time,the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition told CSP on Tuesday.

On May 9, hundreds of convenience stores—members of Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition (VA MAC) and the broader skill games coalition—again halted sales of Virginia Lottery tickets until Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and members of the Virginia General Assembly come to an agreement on a path forward for skill games in advance of the upcoming special session, set to begin today.

If no deal is reached, skill games will remain illegal in Virginia under a ban former Gov. Ralph Northam first approved in 2020, according to a report by the Virginia Mercury. There are still multiple ways the machines could become legal this year, but the lack of forward movement has convinced many observers that the outlook for skill games is not good, the report said.

Earlier in April, more than 500 retailers staged a two-day protest over what they claim are unacceptable amendments to legislation to allow skill games on a limited basis that they say could permanently shut down thousands of convenience stores.

VA MAC members participated in a day of action urging Youngkin and members of the General Assembly to reverse the governor’s amendments and keep the original version of SB 212, the skill game regulation bill, in place. Action included stopping the sale of lottery tickets.

Youngkin wants to add 20% to what is already a 25% tax—the highest in the nation—to the skill games sales, c-store retailer and VA MAC member Munir Rassiwala told the Charlottesville Radio Group in mid-April. The group also opposes a proposed 35-mile-radius skill game ban away from gaming establishments such as casinos or horse racing facilities, as well as smaller distances from churches and schools.

By stopping Virginia Lottery sales, convenience store owners across the commonwealth intend to show the economic impact that the closing of stores would have on the Virginia Lottery and the tax revenue they generate, the group told CSP.

Convenience store owners will resume Virginia Lottery sales once an agreement on a path forward for skill games is announced, the group said.

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