New lawsuit challenges July 1 ban on skill games in Virginia

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 8:06 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A law that takes effect July 1 will ban so-called skill games in Virginia, but former NASCAR driver and Virginia businessman Hermie Sadler says not so fast.

Monday, Sadler’s attorney, Franklin County Senator Bill Stanley, filed a lawsuit in Greensville County challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

Sadler is best known for his experience on the race track, as a former NASCAR driver and television announcer. But his family also owns a truck stop, and nine other businesses that offer skill games to the public.

The truck stop, Sadler said Monday afternoon, has had skill games for 25 years. And they’ve been a lifeline, he said, during the pandemic.

“It’s enabled us to keep people on the payroll, to pay overtime, to absorb some of these other costs associated with doing business in a difficult time like we’re facing now,” Sadler said.

Representatives of other truck stops, convenience stores and businesses joined Sadler for a news conference outside the State Capitol Monday afternoon.

And at a time when the state is opening up to many forms of legal gambling, Stanley said the new ban is unfair and unconstitutional.

“It’s a violation of Mr. Sadler’s First Amendment rights. It’s a violation of all of their First Amendment rights,” Stanley said gesturing toward the other business representatives. “And the bill itself is so unconstitutionally vague, even the ordinary man could not understand what is legal and what is not legal.”

We asked Governor Northam for his reaction during his visit to Rockbridge County Monday afternoon.

“I think we’re on very solid legal grounds,” Northam told reporters. “This was something that the legislature passed. And while they’re filing this lawsuit, we have lawsuits every day, but I don’t think it’s going to be successful.”

The lawsuit requests an injunction that would allow the machines to remain in operation while the courts consider the case. But a hearing is unlikely before July 1 when the ban takes effect.

So, the machines will likely shut down on July first, at least temporarily.

Stanley said he is hoping for a hearing within 60 days.

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