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No sign of a deal on skill games, despite special session status

Mallory Noe-Payne
Radio IQ

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates will be back at the Capitol for a summertime session to make a change to benefits for veterans and their families.

They are not expected to take up legislation legalizing slot-machine style games at truck stops and convenience stores, although Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell says there would be widespread support if they did.

"The bills that passed had passed with wide margins, and the governor came in extraordinarily late in the process with his comments and edits. And he also promised people he was going to work toward a solution," Surovell said. "So I think advocates think that with the large bipartisan consensus and the governor saying that he was going to work with them that they were expecting him to work with them."

Delegate Paul Krizek is a Democrat from Fairfax County who is calling for a moratorium on any new gambling until a commission can be set up to oversee Virginia's growing new industry.

“The skill game bills that have been proposed indicate something like 30,000 to 35,000 machines. That's the equivalent of ten new casinos worth of slot machines," Krizek contends. "So let's put a pause on this. Let's get the Gambling Commission stood up. It'll probably take us a couple years, and that process will help us vet new gambling ventures like skill gaming."

Many lawmakers don't want to wait that long, though, and they are hoping to gavel back into session and pass a skill games bill just as soon as they can strike a deal with the governor.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.