Skill game

Skill game machines like these will be banned in Virginia starting Thursday. Hermie Sadler, a former race car driver and business owner, filed a lawsuit this week against the governor and others in an effort to keep the ban from happening.

A former Southside Virginia racer has steered a lawsuit — with the help of a state senator — in the hopes of overturning a ban on skilled game machines in Virginia that begins next week.

Many Virginians will think NASCAR when they hear the name “Sadler.”

Hermie Sadler and his brother, Elliott spent, many years in NASCAR as race car drivers representing the commonwealth of Virginia, fighting others for victories in the arena of stock car racing.

But those who live and travel in Virginia also know that the Sadler family business is the ownership and operation of truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants all across Southside Virginia.

Hermie Sadler, now retired as a full-time NASCAR driver and TV analyst for FOX Sports, spends his days working in the family business. But now he has another fight to win.

For at least the last 20 years the Sadler’s have offered skill games in some of their locations, especially the truck stops. The games serve as a draw for truck drivers to stop and do business at their locations.

While at the location the drivers also spend money in the restaurants and food marts, all creating revenue for both the local area and the state. The revenue from skill games has also allowed the Sadler’s to invest in their locations’ infrastructure and was a major factor in enabling them to keep people on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of that is scheduled to change however on July 1, as Gov. Ralph Northam and his administration have ordered that all skill games at these locations shall be now, for the first time in the history of Virginia, banned. That action, along with the fact that the commonwealth of Virginia is expending its involvement in gaming, including the addition of four casinos and the legalization of the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry in the state prompted Sadler to take this action to protect the rights of his business, and all Virginia-based small business operators that are going to be devastated by this action by Northam and the Virginia legislature.

On Monday, Sadler, through his attorney, state Sen. Bill Stanley, filed a lawsuit against the governor, attorney general, and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control seeking the circuit court of Greensville County to declare that the ban on skill games in Virginia is unconstitutional.

“This is a sad day for me, being a lifelong Virginian,”Sadler said. “But I have no choice but to try and protect my business and my family as well as all of those that work with us and their families. I am also standing up for all of the ‘Mom and Pop’ operators across the state that perhaps own a family store in a rural or urban area of Virginia that are already struggling now have to deal with this. It’s just not fair.”

A major point of contention, according to Sadler, is the timing. In essence the Northam administration is choosing to remove these games from Virginia business owners to clear the way for the casinos to come in the state.

“That’s a huge issue. I have no issue with casinos coming in, but let them come in, make their investments, and let the people decide where they want to spend their money,” Sadler said.