Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department to enforce gambling laws

Published 8:45 am Friday, December 15, 2023

It’s time to talk about gambling laws. If you are a fan of playing skill games or are a convenience store that has them in your business beginning Jan. 1, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department will begin enforcement of the illegal gambling code sections related to skill games.

According to a release from the sheriff’s department, anyone found playing, possessing, offering for play, or operating any skill games is now on notice regarding enforcement of these code sections. 

“The enforcement will include customers using the Skill Games, employees supervising and/or assisting in the operation of the Skill Games, owners of the Skill Game machines, and owners of the establishments in which they are housed,” the release stated. 

The delay in enforcement is meant to allow legitimate business owners an opportunity to remove these devices from their establishments without criminal or civil liability and to explain to their customers that the skill games are no longer allowed by law. 

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly enacted laws declaring skill games to be illegal gambling devices. 

These laws, which were amended by the General Assembly in 2022, made possessing, operating, or playing skill games” a criminal offense and provided both civil and criminal penalties for persons operating such devices. 

During this time, a lawsuit was filed in Greensville Circuit Court challenging the skill games ban and the court entered an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ban until a trial could be held. Because of the injunction, these illegal gambling devices continued to operate. On Oct. 13, the Virginia Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s decision and lifted the injunction preventing enforcement of the relevant code sections. 

Both civil and criminal penalties apply to those found breaking the gaming code. 

CIVIL PENALTIES 

1. A civil penalty up to the amount of $25,000 per gambling device, 

2. An immediate injunction prohibiting the operation of the gambling device, 

3. Seizure of the gambling device and any monies in them, 

4. Costs associated with investigating and bringing the lawsuit, including attorney fees. 

CRIMINAL PENALTIES 

The punishment for violating this statute is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which may result in confinement in jail for up to twelve months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Criminal charges under Virginia Code Section 18.2-328 for being an operator of an illegal gambling enterprise, activity, or operation. 

The punishment for violating this statute is a Class 6 felony, which may result in a term of imprisonment for up to five years or confinement in jail for up to twelve months, or a fine up to $2,500, or both. 

Playing these Skill Games could result in criminal charges of illegal gambling. 

The punishment for violating the gambling laws is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which may result in a fine of up to $500.