Virginia C-Stores Protest Skill Game Bill Amendments

Operators refused to sell lottery tickets on Monday and closed for an hour on Tuesday.

April 18, 2024

Virginia convenience retailers protested Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed amendments on Senate Bill 212, which would impose a 35% tax on skill games and ban them altogether within 35 miles of a casino or horse racetrack, reported 13News Now. On Monday, hundreds of c-stores refused to sell lottery tickets. On Tuesday, the stores protested again, closing for an hour from 3:50-4:50 p.m., a time chosen in reference to the 35-mile restriction.

According to WDBJ7, the amendments would affect bans and injunctions that have gone into effect within the state. The amendments would technically make skill games legal again, but c-stores stated that the restrictions are so tight with the amendments that it is practically a ban.

Japan Joshi, owner of Race Coast Mart in Norfolk, Virginia, owns skill game machines, which are currently shut down and unused due to legislation. “Revenue wise, I’m down 25-30%,” Joshi said. “He’s [Youngkin] telling us, ‘You are closed, you’re not able to operate the skill games.’”

"Every store in [Hampton] Roads is less than 35 miles [from a casino],” Joshi said to the news station, referencing Rivers Casino in Portsmouth. “Revenue is definitely down and I’m not able to hire new employees.”

C-store owners hoped that the protest would send a message to the Governor, WDBJ7 reported. Dharmendra Patel, who owns a c-store in Roanoke County, told the news agency that “He [Youngkin] has killed the skill games bill by default.”

Patel explained that the changes will impact nearly every store in Southwest Virginia. “This is really critical for our survival,” Patel said. “I can pretty much guarantee you that a lot of the stores will be closing down if the skill games [legislation] doesn’t make it through.”

Youngkin’s office issued the following statement to 13News Now and WDBJ7: “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.

According to 13News Now, Youngkin’s amendments propose the tax revenue from skill game machines would be distributed as follows:

  • 5% of gross profits to the Gaming Regulatory Fund.
  • 5% of gross profits to the College Partnership Laboratory School Fund.
  • 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.