Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph Platania announced today that Queen of Virginia, the company that operates what they call “skill-based entertainment machines” across Virginia, has dropped its lawsuit against him. Back in June last year, Platania banned the machines in Charlottesville, the first prosecutor in the state to do so, and Queen of Virginia responded by suing Platania. Virginia’s General Assembly went on to ban the machines statewide, but due to the pandemic the machines, which generate revenue for the bars, restaurants, and conscience stores and gas stations that sell beer and wine [places licensed by the Virginia ABC, which licenses the machines], were given a reprieve and allowed to operate until July 1, 2021.
“In light of that recently passed legislation, the pending civil suit against Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph Platania is moot and is being non-suited by Plaintiffs,” says the PR, “….through counsel, Mr. Platania stated that he will enforce the new law as written and not offer his personal thoughts on its enactment. He will therefore have no further comment on this matter.”
The machines look, sound, and operate like slot machines, and the people playing them certainly look like they are at slot machines, which are against the law in Virginia, but because they incorporate a certain element of skill — which are basically in-game options to continue or cash out — they have been considered legal.
If you’re wondering what’s up with these “skill machine” gambling machines, and the companies behind them, look no further that this passage in a story about the same issue in Pennsylvania: “But PA Skills has recruited an all-star cast of its own, battling for its existence. The line-up includes former Congressman Tom Marino, former State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, former Attorney General Prosecutor Frank Fina, whose law license has since been suspended, and the powerful lobbying firm Long-Nyquist and Associates. It also has prominent attorney Matt Haverstick who insists their games are legal and no more problematic than other gambling.” [source: ABC27 news, Harrisburg]
Here in Virginia, Queen of Virginia [Every state likely has a state-related name for the company operating in their state] has given lots of money to both political parties, and managed to hire Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker to work for them. Swecker happens to run a government and public relations firm, and was past chairwoman of the ABC Board, which, as was mentioned, licenses and regulates all the businesses where the machines can be placed. After the Charlottesville ban was announced, Swecker made calls to Sen. Creigh Deeds, Del. David Toscano, and Charlottesville City Councilor Mike Signer to get “a lay of the land,” she said, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
And, of course, Queen of Virginia was able to silence Platania, who dared to ban the machines in Charlottesville, by suing him.
That’s a pretty good characterization of the kind of companies were dealing with here, and perhaps why Queen of Virginia won a reprieve. We’ve been told the ban on the machines will go into effect after the the reprieve, but who’d like the bet the company finds a way to get around that? Press “Bonus” chance to continue!
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