Ban on skill games temporarily lifted as trial between former NASCAR driver and state of Virginia continues

Virginia News

MONETA, Va. (WRIC) — The Greensville Circuit Court heard Virginia business owner and former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler’s petition for a preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of the ban on skill games on Monday.

That afternoon, a motion was granted for a temporary injunction. This means for the time being the ban has been put on hold and businesses can operate the games.

Sadler’s attorneys argued that the ban should be placed on hold because the law establishing it (SB 971) is unconstitutional and that their petition is about free speech.

On Monday, Dec. 6, the judge determined that the law was too vague and violated First Amendment rights.

Sadler claims the ban that went into effect on July 1 has adversely impacted hundreds of small business owners, convenience stores, truck stops, and restaurants throughout the Commonwealth.

“What has happened to us is wrong; not just me, but everybody,” he said. “We have every right to operate our business just like everybody else does, including the new ones that are trying to come into the Commonwealth.”

He noted that he has no issue with casino gaming coming to Virginia, but that casinos shouldn’t come at the expense of small businesses. Sadler personally owns several truck stops in the Commonwealth, which used to operate video skill games.

“We’ve assembled a top-notch legal team and I’m excited for Monday’s hearing as another step forward in the fight to stop state government’s unconstitutional overreach against small businesses like mine,” Sadler said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorneys say the argument over the ban was not about civil rights but is instead about turning a profit. In addition, the General Assembly reportedly put the law in place to help prevent people from throwing their life savings away on skill games.

Sadler’s attorneys say that skill games are different than games of chance where someone is not in control of how much they win. They argue that skill games are more like crane games or coin pusher games which are not banned in Virginia. The banned skill games offer up money — other games offer the kinds of toys or prizes people would win playing an arcade game.

Monday’s hearing was held at the courthouse at 315 South Main Street in Emporia.

“Our battle has just begun,” state Sen. Bill Stanley, representing Sadler, said. “We come back in may for a declaratory judgment to make this permanent. We also have a battle probably coming up in the Virginia legislature, which you all need to be mindful of and vigilant of because we want to make sure that there’s a permanent solution that helps small business, that saves small business, and allows these skill games in small businesses to compete with the big guys.”

Sadler and his attorneys are set to return to court on May 18, 2022.

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