Virginia Lawmakers Join Gaming Lobbyists Aboard Illinois Private Jet to Study Gambling | State and regional news

Chris Mayer plays an electronic skill game machine at a Buffalo Wild Wings on Broad Street on June 28, 2021 in Richmond. Such skill games became illegal on July 1, but some lawmakers want to replace them with new machines called video game terminals.


State lawmakers keen to bring new slot machines to convenience stores and restaurants in Virginia took a private jet to Illinois with company lobbyists to see the slots up close and spend a night in downtown Chicago.

Travel is not illegal, and lawmakers have obtained clearance from a state ethics board that includes some of their colleagues, but it illustrates how gambling interests are stepping up attempts to influence the law then. that they compete with each other to convince lawmakers to approve their games, which are like slot machines in a casino. Lawmakers must disclose the gifts.

Sen. John Bell, D-Loudoun, who introduced legislation to bring the machines to Virginia, and Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William, who heads a state Senate subcommittee on gaming, did the trip. Senator Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond and Del. Will Morefield, R-Tazewell were also on board.

They flew with lobbyists Dylan Bishop and Steve Baril of the VA VGT Gaming Coalition, which includes business interests who want to bring what are called “video game terminals” to Virginia. Advocates say the games could replace “skill games” that arrived illegally in the state several years ago and were recently banned by the legislature. The new games would generate more tax revenue and help owners of convenience stores, restaurants and truck stops, who relied on proceeds from banned games to secure a new source of income, advocates say.

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