Virginia Governor Vetoes Skill Games Bill — Override Unlikely

A May 17 gubernatorial veto of Virginia’s skill games bill means the machines remain illegal. The veto will likely stay in place because lawmakers in the House don’t appear to have the required two-thirds majority to overturn it.

So, Gov. Glenn Youngkin‘s decision means the law surrounding the unregulated machines will remain in place. That precedent — set in October 2023 by the Virginia Supreme Courtoutlawed skill games. The court was enforcing Virginians’ vote to ban the machines in 2020.

The ban became a reality in 2021. Skill game manufacturers immediately sued. They claimed they provided games of skill and, therefore, not games of chance that would make them illegal gambling machines.

It’s a distinction skill game lobbyists claim in every state.

With regulation, Virginia could collect taxes on skill game revenue.

So, on Jan. 8, 2024, state Sen. Aaron R. Rouse, D-Virginia Beach, sponsored a skill games bill to regulate the machines. Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly approved SB212.

Rouse estimated a 15% tax rate on the skill games could generate $200 million in annual tax revenue.

While Rouse posted comments on X about other Youngkin vetoes, the candidate for lieutenant governor hadn’t mentioned the SB212 veto as of May 20. He did tell local reporters and the Associated Press that he would work with Youngkin on a compromise measure.

Youngkin’s Skill Games Bill Veto Reasoning

On May 17, Youngkin vetoed the skill games bill.

The governor wrote:

In recent years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has authorized casinos, sports betting, and parimutuel wagering, on top of longer-standing gaming options like the Virginia Lottery, horse racing, and charitable gaming.

When it comes to additional gaming options, such as games of skill, we must proceed with a robust set of safeguards.

I sent over a package of amendments, which addressed my many concerns with the bill. While it is regrettable that my recommendations were not adopted, I remain open to working with the General Assembly going forward on this subject.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

The amendments Youngkin mentions were sent to legislators last month. The Senate rejected his recommendations on April 17.

Skill Games Bill Veto Override Is Unlikely

Virginia’s constitution says that Youngkin’s sending the skill games bill back to the Senate with his recommendations was technically his first veto.

The Senate overrode his veto 34-6.

However, his May 17 veto means the House will have to override it this time. That’s unlikely to happen.

SB212 only passed in the House with a simple majority — not even close to two-thirds.

The state constitution reads:

If both houses override the Governor’s veto, the bill shall become law without his signature. If either house fails to override the Governor’s veto, the veto shall stand, and the bill shall not become law.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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