In Virginia, a group of Asian American business owners has urged the state’s attorney general to investigate an alleged instance of racial discrimination in a pending ban on electronic skill games in their stores.
The Roanoke-based Asian American Business Owners Association asked Attorney General Mark Herring’s office to block the ban, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.
“In recent years, gaming has been embraced by the commonwealth when it is enjoyed by the privileged in fancy casinos or by children in ‘family entertainment centres,'” read the complaint filed on June 26. “But that very same activity is not acceptable when offered by Asian American owned convenience stores or enjoyed by minority or marginalized populations.”
The association, which was founded in 2007, said that it represents about 200 convenience store owners and that most of them are Indian-American.
“What we are looking for is a level playing field,” president Dharmendra Patel said.
The ban is supported by Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican from James City. Along with Finance Chair Janet Howell, a Fairfax Democrat, he claimed that the ban was required to stop the increase of previously unregulated game machines in convenience stores, truck stops, and restaurants. Sometimes they directly, which the state owns, and dedicate its profits to public education.
Last year during a legislative debate, Howell had referred to the games as “sleazy”. She later clarified that she referred to “the big businesses that brought them into our state without permission or oversight.”
Last year, Virginia’s General Assembly voted to allow casino gambling and sports betting, and it passed the initial ban on skill machines in the same session.
While regulating the machines through the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority and taxing them $1,200 a month each, the body decided to delay the ban for a year. Before the ban was postponed, Gov. Ralph Northam agreed to oppose or veto legislation that would allow people to operate the machines legally.
Over $100 million in tax revenue generated from the machines in the past year was allocated to help small businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
India-West Staff Reporter added: “According to a report from Norfolk by WAVY on wric.com, despite the efforts from the group of business owners, skill games will remain shut down in Virginia, effective July 1.”
On July 2, a request from the group for an injunction that would have allowed the operation of skill games at their establishments was denied by a judge.