STAUNTON — And Augusta County makes three.
Last week, Staunton announced it would start enforcing the state's "skill game" ban, and Tuesday the City of Waynesboro said it too will begin enforcing the ban. On Wednesday, Augusta County said it will resume enforcement of the ban beginning next year, according to Augusta County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Martin.
The county will begin enforcing the ban Jan. 1, the same day as Staunton. Waynesboro will begin its enforcement of the ban beginning Dec. 1.
In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly enacted laws declaring skill games to be illegal gambling devices. Amended by the General Assembly in 2022, the laws made possessing, operating, or playing skill games a criminal offense, and provided both civil and criminal penalties for persons operating such devices, a press release said Wednesday.
But after a lawsuit was filed in Emporia Circuit Court challenging the ban, the court entered an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ban until a trial could be held. Because of this injunction, many jurisdictions allowed these illegal gambling devices to continue to flourish, including Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro.
On Oct. 13, the Virginia Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s decision and lifted the injunction that prevented the enforcement of the code sections, prompting local officials to begin enacting the ban.
Punishment for illegally operating a skill game device includes civil penalties up to $25,000 per device, the press release said. Criminal penalties for a person possessing a skill game machine include up to 12 months in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine, and an operator of an illegal gambling enterprise could face up to five years in prison.
Those caught playing skill games 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@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Augusta County to enforce ban on skill games