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Northam wants to tax skill games to create a COVID-19 relief fund

Posted at 11:19 PM, Apr 12, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam wants to create a COVID-19 relief fund by taxing electronic skill games, instead of banning them in the Commonwealth.

Northam estimated taxing the games, which are primary at local bars, convenience stores and truck stops, would generate more than $150 million a year.

That money would then help "small businesses get back on their feet and provide support to nursing homes, Virginians looking for employment, individuals with rent and mortgage issues, and people experiencing homelessness," according to Northam.

Northam's office has pitched amending a bill banning the games and keeping them for another year in certain places.

The state would then tax the distributors of the machines $1,200 a month for each one operating in Virginia.

"I urge Virginia legislators to approve this plan when they return to Richmond on April 22 so we can get Virginians the aid they need to weather this crisis," Northam posted on social media.

Saturday night was the deadline for Northam to sign, veto or amend bills passed by the General Assembly this year.

Any bill the governor amended or vetoed now goes back to state lawmakers for consideration when they meet later this month.