STAUNTON — Augusta County has joined the ranks of localities enforcing the state’s “skill game” ban, making it the third in the region to do so.
Staunton announced its enforcement last week, and Waynesboro followed suit on Tuesday. According to Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin, the county will start enforcing the ban at the beginning of next year.
Staunton and Augusta County will start enforcing the ban on January 1, while Waynesboro will begin on December 1.
In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed laws declaring skill games to be illegal. The laws were amended in 2022 to make possession, operation, or playing of skill games a criminal offense, with both civil and criminal penalties, as stated in a Wednesday press release.
However, enforcement of the ban was put on hold after a lawsuit challenged it in court, resulting in an injunction preventing its enforcement while awaiting trial. This led to the continued flourishing of illegal gambling devices in many jurisdictions, including Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro.
On October 13, the Virginia Supreme Court lifted the injunction, prompting local officials to begin enforcing the ban.
Civil penalties for illegally operating a skill game device can reach up to $25,000 per device, and criminal penalties for possession include up to 12 months in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine. Operators of illegal gambling enterprises could face up to five years in prison, and players could be fined up to $500.
Brad Zinn is the cops, courts, and breaking news reporter at The News Leader. Have a news tip? Or something that needs investigating? You can email reporter Brad Zinn (he/him) at [email protected]. You can also follow him on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Augusta County to enforce ban on skill games