Two former law enforcement officials make the case against electronic ‘skill games.’’

Cardinal News

By T. Neal Morris and C.M. Hess

Lynchburg, January 2022: Armed assailants enter Click Spot Skill Gaming, assault an employee and steal cash.  

Pittsylvania County, February 2022: An armed man robs a gray game venue, taking off with an undisclosed amount.

Richmond, March 2022: An argument over gaming machines between two men inside a K Food Store near Swansboro Elementary School leads to a shootout. Three other individuals were caught in the crossfire, including a teenage girl. 

Gloucester, May 2022: Two assailants with a chainsaw break into a 7-Eleven to steal money from a gray machine, placing overnight workers and customers in the store in harm’s way and terrifying nearby residents.

Fairfax County, January 2023: In a span of four weeks, thieves targeted gaming machines at six separate 7-Eleven stores. Investigators said thieves are “… physically going in and removing these systems, but we’ve also seen them where they try to discreetly hide what they’re doing near these machines. You’ll see individuals loitering around these machines, tampering with them, and they’ll break into the machines and steal money.”

These are just a few of many recent examples from across Virginia where so-called gray or skill games have caused increases in violent crime that put people, including young children, in danger. 

Local enforcement officials have taken note. According to an October 2022 study by the nonpartisan Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), “[c]ommonwealth’s attorneys from multiple localities reported that crimes such as assault and robbery have increased at establishments with gray machines.”

As former law enforcement officers, we spent our careers putting the safety and best interests of Virginians first. We believe it is imperative that these machines not only remain illegal but be destroyed. 

Whether a business owns one gray machine or ten, they lead to loitering, which causes security concerns, and can lead to crime in addition to making customers and staff feel unsafe. In Richmond, two major shootings in less than three months occurred at the very same convenience store. When Councilwoman Ellen Robertson led community members on a walkthrough of that same store, gray machines were found immediately upon entry.