Virginia Skill Games Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature (or Veto)

profile image of Dave Grendzynski
In an aerial view, the Virginia State Capitol is shown on July 12, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia.

Virginia is set to become the latest state to legalize skill games, a type of electronic gaming device that requires some degree of skill or knowledge to play.

Let’s go through the main details and analyze the potential impact this bill could have on the online sportsbooks industry.

Game On

The state legislature passed a bill (SB 212) that would allow skill games to operate in convenience stores and truck stops across the state, subject to regulation and taxation by the Virginia Lottery Board.

The bill passed the Senate in a 31-9 vote, and the House of Delegates in a 49-43 vote, with some bipartisan support and opposition.

Bill Now Goes to Governor Youngkin

It now awaits the signature of Governor Glenn Youngkin. If signed into law, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2024.

Should the bill pass into law, Virginia will join a select group of states legalizing skill game machines, such as Nebraska –which enacted such legislation in 2020– and Wyoming –which followed suit in 2023.

Bill Expected to Create Jobs and Generate Revenue

State Sen. Aaron Rouse sponsored the bill. He’s a Democrat from Virginia Beach and argues that skill games can generate $200 million a year in revenue for the state.

If signed by Gov. Youngkin, the bill would tax and regulate the games at 25%. It would also cap the number of games at four at Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (Virginia ABC) licensed retail establishments and 10 at truck stops.

The majority of proceeds will go to the PreK-12 Priority Fund, and the rest will fund various local and state organizations:

  • PreK-12 Priority Fund: 75%
  • Local municipalities: 15%
  • Administrative costs: 6%
  • Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund: 2%
  • Department of State Police: 1%
  • Local municipalities law-enforcement agencies: 1%

Rouse also said that skill games would create jobs and help small businesses.

Defining What Skill Games Are

The bill defines skill games as “any game played for money, credit, or any other thing of value that rewards the player or players for their skill in logic, trivia, matching, memory, or any other element of the game that involves the use of skill, and not predominantly chance, to determine the outcome of the game.”

“Skill games are not gambling, they are entertainment,” Rouse said in a statement. “They are a way for people to have fun, test their skills, and win prizes. They are also a way for the state to raise much-needed funds without raising taxes or cutting services.”

The bill also specifies that skill games must display the rules, odds and payouts of the game, and must not use any element of chance, such as spinning reels, dice or cards to determine the outcome of the game.

What Might Be Next for Virginia?

Outside of waiting for the Governor to sign (or veto) the skill games bill, there’s something else to watch in Virginia.

Many are wondering if Virginia could be considering introducing online casinos, given the thriving retail and online sports betting landscape. While there hasn’t been any legislative discussion on the matter yet, several other states are contemplating similar legislation.

We’ll continue to track it all and bring you updates as we get them.