CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney has made a decision on the legality of the skill machines that have been popping up across the City of Charlottesville.

On Friday, the office determined the machines are in fact gambling devices. The machines have been popping up across the city in convenience stores, gas stations, and even a few restaurants.

The Queen of Virginia machines were approved because they were found to be a game of skill, which is legal in the Commonwealth. The device has a range of puzzles that operate similar to tic-tac-toe. However, the Commonwealth's Attorney Joseph Platania has found the devices to be gambling machines and in violation of the state's gambling law.

The possession of these devices will be classified as a Class I misdemeanor and owners could face up to 12 months in jail. Businesses with the devices will be notified that they have 30 days to remove the machines or face legal repercussions. 

06/07/2019 Press Release from Charlottesville's Commonwealth's Attorney:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Recently, members of this community and local media outlets have inquired about the legality of “Queen of Virginia” machines on the premises of a number of convenience stores located in the City of Charlottesville. 

The machines are cash-operated and generate combinations of symbols on a screen with the user winning or losing money depending on the combinations that appear. Citizens have addressed City Council regarding these machines and have expressed concern about their presence and usage in the City of Charlottesville.

After a review of the relevant Sections of the Code of Virginia, particularly §18.2-325 and §18.2-331, this office has made the determination that these “Queen of Virginia” machines are gambling devices and therefore violate Virginia Law. Possession of such a gambling device is a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by incarceration of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500. 

Establishments that currently house such devices in the City of Charlottesville will be notified in writing that they have thirty (30) days to remove the machines from their premises. If the machine is removed, no further action will be taken. If, after the thirty (30) day period has elapsed, the machine remains on the premises of the establishment, the owner will be subject to prosecution for illegally possessing a gambling device. The Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will focus on the prosecution of establishments who possess the devices and not on individuals who may use such devices. 

06/07/2019 Press Release from Statement from Queen of Virginia Skill and Entertainment:

Queen of Virginia Skill and Entertainment disagrees with the position of the Commonwealth Attorney in Charlottesville that our machines are gambling devices and therefore violate state law.  Before Queen of Virginia brought the first terminal to the Old Dominion more than two years ago, our attorneys and compliance personnel met with Commonwealth Attorneys in a host of localities including Charlottesville to show them that our games are predominantly skill based and therefore legal.  When we became aware two weeks ago that the new Commonwealth Attorney in Charlottesville, Joseph Platania, had concerns, we furnished his office with a packet of information and more importantly, requested an in-person meeting with him and his staff. That has yet to take place. 

Now we have a statement from Mr. Platania, ordering that Queen of Virginia remove machines from the 30 convenience stores, bars and restaurants that have them in the City of Charlottesville within 30 days.  We are examining all of our options as a result of this action.  We still want to meet as soon as possible with Mr. Platania and his staff to further discuss this matter, because Queen of Virginia skill games are not only popular with local residents but also are generating valuable tax revenue, jobs and to date more than $300,000 in grants for non-profits across Virginia.  

We are hopeful and confident this matter can resolved through more sharing of information between our team and Mr. Platania’s.