Pace-O-Matic Lawyer Working on Virginia Skill Game Legislation ‘Not Conflict of Interest’

Posted on: March 3, 2024, 06:42h. 

Last updated on: March 3, 2024, 06:42h.

A Virginia state senator who, as a lawyer for skill-games manufacturer Pace-O-Matic, fought the state’s ban on the machines is now helping to write legislation to overturn the prohibition, The Virginia Mercury reports.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, Pace-O-Matic, Virginia skill games, Hermie Sadler
State Sen. Bill Stanley, presenting his “Leaning Right and Turning Left” podcast, which happens to be sponsored by skill-game manufacturer Pace-O-Matic, above. He also works as a lawyer for the company, which has lobbied hard for skill-gaming in Virginia. (Image: Cardinal News)

Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin) admitted he was “surprised” that he was cleared by the state Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council to work on the bill, which would regulate and tax the machines in Virginia.

Stanley also represented former NASCAR driver turned truck-stop owner Hermie Sadler in his unsuccessful legal challenge to have the ban overturned on constitutional grounds.

Stanley told the Mercury Thursday that the advisory council determined there was no conflict of interest because he was not an owner of Pace-O-Matic or of a convenience store that had a skill-game in it.

“I’m representing the public interest,” Stanley said. His experience as a lawyer “helps me make a determination about what’s best for the commonwealth of Virginia,” he added.

Still Retained by Pace-O-Matic

Stanley noted that he generally opposed gambling expansion and had abstained from gambling votes in the past. He also said he did not ask to be appointed to the conference committee of lawmakers working on the bill.

He confirmed that he is still retained as a lawyer for Pace-O-Matic. The Georgia-based skill-game company also sponsors Stanley’s “Leaning Right and Turning Left” podcast, which he hosts with Sadler.

Skill games have been deployed in Virginia restaurants, bars, and truck stops for the past two decades. They were unregulated, untaxed, and existed in a gray area of the law until 2020, when the legislature voted to ban the machines outright.

They were granted a stay of execution during the pandemic when then-Gov. Ralph Northam devised a plan to tax them for 12 months only to shore up finances for struggling businesses.

Then last October the state Supreme Court declared the machines illegal gambling games and the state began enforcing the ban from January 2024. Currently, thousands of Pace-O-Matic machines sit deactivated in businesses across the state awaiting the outcome of future legislation.

Competing Bills

There are currently two bills being prepared in the House and Senate, respectively. The House bill proposes tighter regulations and a higher tax rate, while the Senate bill, with less red tape, aims to get skill games generating revenue again for small businesses as quickly as possible. These two approaches will need to be reconciled before a final version can be put to a vote.

In 2021, while representing Sadler in his lawsuit against then-Gov. Northam, Stanley argued that the state’s decision to permit casino gaming but ban skill games amounted to hypocrisy.

“If you’re going to legalize gambling in [Virginia] then you’ve got to rip the band-aid off,” he told media. “You’ve got to legalize all gambling, and picking and choosing winners and losers is un-American and un-Virginian.”

Source link