Charlottesville prosecutor orders removal of 'Queen of Virginia' machines

Published: Jun. 7, 2019 at 4:58 PM EDT
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Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania has ordered businesses to remove "Queen of Virginia" gaming devices, saying they violate Virginia's gambling laws.

The machines have been popping up in gas stations and small convenience stores in Charlottesville over recent weeks. They look similar to video poker or slot machines.

The machines are cash-operated and allow players to win or lose money, based on a combination of symbols on the screen.

Platania said, in his opinion, the machines are illegal gambling devices. He has ordered all businesses in Charlottesville that have the machines to remove them in the next 30 days, or face prosecution.

Possession of a gambling device is a class 1 misdemeanor. Those convicted face punishment up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.

But Saurabh Godhwani, the owner of Sunshine Supermarket on Cherry Street, said they're video games that depend on a degree of skill and timing.

"Slot machines are all based on luck," said Godhwani. "If you don't touch the right button or miss it or if the time runs out, you don't make any money on it. So it's not exactly luck."

Godwhani said he started out with one machine, but quickly bought four more after the gaming machines proved popular after only two months.