Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed a rewrite of laws meant to legalize and tax talent video games, including stiff new restrictions that business supporters argued would nonetheless quantity to a de facto ban of the slots-like playing machines hosted by small companies.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth tackle earlier than a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, on the Capitol in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(AP/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed a rewrite of laws meant to legalize and tax skill games, including stiff new restrictions that business supporters argued would nonetheless quantity to a de facto ban of the slots-like playing machines hosted by small companies.

The governor put ahead amendments late Monday that overhaul a measure the General Assembly sent him in March, calling for a better tax fee on the receipts from the machines, and a provision permitting localities to ban them. The proposed adjustments additionally add placement restrictions on the arcade-style video games, banning them inside a couple of half-mile of church buildings, day cares and homes of worship, and seemingly excluding them in lots of metro areas that already host a playing institution akin to a on line casino.

While skill-games supporters vowed to struggle the proposed adjustments, Youngkin spokesman Christian Martinez mentioned in a press release “the added protections” the governor is searching for tackle “critical considerations with the regulatory construction, tax charges, the variety of machines, affect on the Virginia Lottery and broader public security implications” of the laws.

The skill-games invoice was one among dozens Youngkin took motion on late Monday, as he ran up in opposition to a deadline to behave on measures despatched to his desk in the course of the common session that ended March 9.

The governor, a Republican, vetoed measures that will have arrange a prescription drug affordability board and allowed all localities to carry a referendum on elevating gross sales taxes to assist fund college building. He amended a Democratic priority measure that aimed to guard the correct to entry contraception. And he signed off on measures expanding the state’s revenge porn law and establishing 18 because the minimal age for marriage.

Of the 1,046 payments despatched to him this 12 months by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, he signed a complete of 777, amended 116 — including the state budget — and vetoed 153, his workplace mentioned. Youngkin has vetoed extra payments on this 12 months alone than any of his seven instant predecessors did over their whole four-year phrases, in accordance with an accounting by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Lawmakers will reconvene in Richmond subsequent week to think about his amendments. They may additionally try and override his vetoes, although Democrats would wish Republicans to affix with them to achieve the mandatory 2/3 vote threshold.

The talent video games debate is a uncommon situation that has not fallen alongside partisan traces. A coalition shaped to push for legalization this 12 months centered the voices of the small-business homeowners who hosted the machines in institutions like gasoline stations and eating places and shared of their earnings earlier than a ban first handed in 2020 took impact.

Rich Kelly, a restaurant proprietor and the president of the coalition, mentioned in a press release Monday that Youngkin’s amendments had been “devastating” and would successfully ban the machines by prohibiting them inside inside 35 miles of any on line casino, racetrack or playing “satellite tv for pc facility.” Virginia has casinos in Bristol, Danville and Portsmouth, and permits wagers on dwell horse races and one other type of slots-like betting in historic horse race wagering parlors across the state.

Youngkin’s proposed tax fee of 45% would additionally make talent video games the best taxed good in Virginia, Kelly mentioned.

For years, policymakers in Virginia and around the country have been grappling with the best way to regulate the machines, which look just like slot machines however contain a component of talent, their producers say. Virginia lawmakers first voted to ban talent video games in 2020 as they had been opening the door to casinos.

Operators acquired a reprieve after then-Gov. Ralph Northam requested lawmakers to delay the ban by a 12 months and as a substitute tax the machines and use the income for COVID-19 aid. The ban took impact in July 2021 however was challenged in courtroom and placed on maintain for some time amid that struggle.

Bill sponsor Aaron Rouse, a Democratic senator from Virginia Beach, mentioned in a press release that he would work to dam Youngkin’s amendments and “do every thing potential to make the pursuits of small companies – not casinos or huge out-of-state firms – a precedence.”

A coalition opposing talent sport legalization that counts the state’s casinos amongst its members mentioned in a press release that it was nonetheless reviewing the amendments nevertheless it appreciated the governor’s “extra considerate method” to a measure that will have “led to an unprecedented enlargement of playing in Virginia.”

If each legislative chambers comply with Youngkin’s whole set of amendments once they meet subsequent week, the invoice as amended would turn into regulation. If lawmakers solely settle for sure amendments, the invoice could be returned to Youngkin, who may both signal or veto it.

In different motion late Monday, Youngkin authorized a pair of mental health reform bills that stemmed from the loss of life of Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man whose loss of life final 12 months whereas in custody at a state psychological hospital sparked outrage and led to each legal charges and a wrongful death settlement.

Youngkin additionally sought amendments to 2 items of laws that contact on organizations associated to the Confederacy in a manner which means lawmakers must approve them once more subsequent 12 months earlier than they may take impact. One of the payments would would have ended a tax perk presently loved by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the opposite would have ended the issuance of particular license plates honoring Robert E. Lee and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

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