More than 9,000 electronic gaming machines are currently in circulation in Virginia, but state lawmakers have said the machines will be banned next year.
The Roanoke Times reports that the Virginia Department of Taxation estimates the machines contributed about $12 million in tax payments in July. Most of that tax revenue has gone into a newly established COVID-19 relief fund.
At the beginning of the year, the General Assembly wanted to ban the machines, which resemble slot machines but claim to have an element of skill that could allow them to elude the state’s prohibition on gambling.
The General Assembly decided in April to allow the machines to continue to operate for another year as a lifeline to struggling businesses and as a source of additional revenue to help with coronavirus services.
The companies making the machines had until July 1 to place the games in convenience stores, restaurants and truck stops.
Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, urged the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to keep a close eye on the machines to ensure they’re not evading tax collection or that more machines are being placed in the market.
Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, assured the committee that she and Gov. Ralph Northam are still united in banning the machines by next June.