Virginia Passes 2-Year State Budget Without Lifting Skill Games Ban

Virginia passed its two-year state budget plan on Monday, but a lifting of the skill games ban was not part of it.

This is despite pressure from state business owners who have stopped selling lottery draw games and other tickets in protest of the ban.

With the budget in place and a lift of the ban not in the foreseeable future, the Virginia Lottery is in a compromised position.

New budget set without Virginia skill games

Monday’s special session to approve the two-year budget in Virginia never addressed Senate Bill 212 as a possible addition.

In the end, the Virginia House and Senate passed a $188 billion deal.

The Democratic-run legislature and Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin had disagreed over much of the budget coming into Monday. However, compromises were made on both ends to agree to this two-year plan.

The only time skill games were mentioned during the legislative sessions was to address budgeted revenue for the upcoming years.

During Monday’s session, it was noted that the next fiscal year allotted $0 for revenue from skill games.

However, $112 million from skill games was planned for fiscal year 2026, noting that Gov. Youngkin could revisit the topic still within the two-year window.

Discussion on skill games to continue

Though skill games weren’t included in the budget, lawmakers and Gov. Youngkin aren’t saying it’s entirely off the table this year.

Both addressed the matter when Youngkin signed the budget on Monday night:

“What we decided was that we would pick that up at another day,” Youngkin said Monday as he signed a bipartisan budget deal that didn’t address the legality of skill games. “That’s a commitment that we’ve made.”

Youngkin and legislators were far apart on the bill to lift the ban. Another special session may not be enough time to reach an agreement.

SB212 DetailsWhat Senate PassedWhat Youngkin Amended
Skill games allowedUp to 4 games for most businesses. Up to 10 for truck stops.Up to 3 games for most businesses. Up to 7 for truck stops. Max of 20,000 in the state.
Location restrictionsnoneNo games within 35 miles of casino, horse track, or "historical horse racing parlor." No games within 2,500 feet of churches, daycares, and places of worship
Tax25%35%
Licensing fees$250 for stores and truck stops$9,000 for stores, $21,000 for truck stops
Local governmentCan't ban skill gamesCan ban skill games

Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), who is in favor of skill games, wasn’t confident an agreement could be reached:

“If they come up with a proposal we’ll have to see what it is,” Surovell said. “To pass a bill like that in an efficient fashion in less than five days, it takes 80% votes. And I’m not sure whether or not people who don’t like skill games are willing to expedite the process.”

The two-year budget goes into effect on July 1. Any additions to it must be finalized and voted on by June 30. Otherwise, the skill games issue can’t be brought up again until the 2025 legislative sessions.

Business owners boycotting Virginia Lottery sales in protest

Several business owners in Virginia have boycotted retail lottery sales in their stores to protest the skill games ban not being lifted.

Members of the VA Merchants and Amusement Coalition and the VA Amusement Coalition have vowed to continue the protest until the ban is lifted:

“By stopping Virginia Lottery sales, convenience store owners across the Commonwealth will show the economic impact that the closing of convenience stores will have on the Virginia Lottery and the tax revenue they generate. They will also show their continued support for legislative champions who continue to fight for small businesses.”

The boycott’s impact is likely to affect millions of dollars each day on average.

PlayiLottery reached out to the Virginia Lottery for comment on the situation, but a response was not immediately returned.

Though retail tickets aren’t being sold at many retailers, the Virginia online lottery is still operational. Residents can play draw games and digital instant games through the state lottery website.

 

Photo by Iv-olga via Shutterstock

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
Back To Top