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Youngkin open to changes in skill games amendments

Dozens of convenience store owners gather at the capital in yellow shirts in support of legalizing skill games.
Brad Kutner
Radio IQ
Dozens of convenience store owners gather at the capital in yellow shirts in support of legalizing skill games.

Virginia’s legislature said "no" to a host of amendments from Governor Glenn Youngkin to a bill legalizing skill games in the Commonwealth. But that didn’t end the conversation and lawmakers agreed to work with the governor to find a more palatable bill.

In what became a regular site this legislative session, dozens of convenience store owners gathered at the capital in yellow shirts for Wednesday’s veto session. They were there supporting an effort to legalize skill games. Among those in the crowd was Munir Rassiwala. He has stores in Scottsville, Farmville and New Kent. And he said some of Youngkin’s proposed amendments, like perimeter limits which would ban skill games within 35 miles of any casino, are untenable.

“We have more competition coming in. Do we get a 35 mile radius from Buc-ee's? I didn’t get a 35 mile radius from a Buc-ee's,” Rassiwala said. “You want big chains coming in and you’re not protecting me.”

But Youngkin admitted this week that the perimeter rules were among amendments he was willing to negotiate on.

“I am willing to sit down and really talk about the perimeter policy to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact folks,” Youngkin said. “I think we can address that and I think that will go a long way to help folks come to a common ground.”

Rassiwala stressed his willingness to keep rallying for legal skill games at the capital after regularly visiting this legislative session. And Senator Aaron Rouse, who sponsored the original skill games bill, said that presence, and that support may be helping.

“It lets you know how serious and needed this bill is,” Rouse told Radio IQ.

The Virginia legislature returns in mid-May for a 3-day special session where the skill games effort, and the state’s budget, will all need to be hammered out.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Brad Kutner is Radio IQ's reporter in Richmond.