With no deal on skill games, Virginia convenience store owners stop sale of lottery tickets

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Posted at 11:09 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 09:05:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- There is now a halt on the sale of Virginia Lottery tickets in hundreds of convenience stores across the Commonwealth.

It started Thursday night as a result of organizers who say there is still no path forward in protecting skill games in Virginia.

Munir Rassiwala is a Virginia business owner partaking in the boycott. He says he is frustrated over the future of skill games in the state.

Rassiwala said he was optimistic after lawmakers passed legislation to bring the games back. But he said his mood turned when Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin added significant amendments to the bill passed.

Those amendments would allow localities to ban skill games, put further restrictions on where they could be located and change how much they would be taxed.

The General Assembly rejected those amendments.

“We need the lawmakers and the governor to come to a resolution which is in the interest of small business and allows skill games to continue," Rassiwala said.

That’s why he and hundreds of convenience stores that are a part of the Virginia Merchants and Amusement Coalition began boycotting ahead of lawmakers reconvening for a special session.

As of Thursday evening, these businesses have stopped selling Virginia Lottery tickets until the governor and lawmakers put protections for skill games in the budget.

The group boycotted in a similar fashion for one day in April. The Virginia Lottery reported on the day of that boycott, their sales were down roughly 5.8%.

“If the bill doesn’t pass and we can’t turn skill games on you will have store closures and then the lottery will be impacted and you will see the economic impact on the Commonwealth," he said.

Critics in favor of restrictions on skill games believe the games don’t have a place in residential neighborhoods.

At a rally against skill games earlier this session, one person said they feel low income communities need jobs and better schools, not slot machines on every corner.

"These convenience store slot machines do not promote the kind of values I want in the children in my community," she said.

The Family Foundation of Virginia expressed a similar sentiment in an email Thursday afternoon.
They encouraged community members to contact the governor and tell him to veto the bill.

The governors office could not be reached for comment on the boycott.

As of Thursday night, there is no skill games language in the proposed budget lawmakers reported reaching a deal on. However, there is a skill games bill in front of the governor and it is on him to act on it.

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