Northam signs alcohol, ‘games of skill’ bills into law
To-go drinks will continue, gambling machines rebuffed
Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that he has signed several bills into law, including ones that allow for the delivery and take-out of alcoholic beverages and the ban of so-called “games of skill.”
House Bill 1879, sponsored by Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, and Senate Bill 1299, sponsored by state Sen. John Bell, D-Ashburn, codify Northam’s Executive Directive Ten and allow for delivery and take-out of alcoholic beverages until July 1, 2022. The legislation also directs the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to broadly study the issue and provide a report to the General Assembly by Nov. 1, 2021. The governor’s order, enacted last year, aimed to help struggling restaurants and bars during COVID-related restrictions.
Northam also amended House Bill 2168, sponsored by Del. Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, to clarify that so-called “games of skill” — gambling machines that are similar to slots, commonly used in convenience stores, restaurants, truck stops and other businesses — will be prohibited beginning July 1, 2021. As passed by the General Assembly, the bill states that any person involved with the ownership or management of a gambling device set up in an unregulated location is subject to a civil penalty of up to $25,000.
The games’ ban was delayed by a year in 2020 due to the pandemic-related economic recession, and $68 million in income from the games has gone into a coronavirus relief fund to assist Virginians with housing insecurity and small business loans. Some elected officials — including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Del. Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria — advocated for another delay of the ban earlier this year to continue assistance of Virginians affected by the pandemic. However, Northam said last year that he would not extend the reprieve beyond July 1, 2021.