RICHMOND —The Virginia Supreme Court denied a request from the state on Monday to reverse a temporary injunction ruling allowing the operation of skill games.
Circuit Court Judge Louis Lerner's Dec. 6 ruling temporarily halted the commonwealth's ban on skill games signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam effective July 1. The injunction remains in effect until a scheduled May 18 hearing in Greensville County Circuit to resolve the issue at hand.
On June 21, Emporia native and former NASCAR standout Hermie Sadler and his attorney, Bill Stanley, filed suit against Gov. Ralph Northam, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Attorney General's Office, and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. The team filed the lawsuit shortly before the skill games ban became law. Sadler is pleased with the Virginia Supreme Court's decision to allow the temporary injunction to continue.
"I feel the Supreme Court did the right thing in validating Circuit Court Judge Louis Lerner's ruling on Dec. 6," Sadler said. "My hope is the general assembly will look at the court's ruling. We're not out of the woods yet. We knew it was going to be a difficult road. When Bill took up this case he said we had the law on our side."
Lerner cited a constitutional and 1st Amendment issue when rendering his decision favoring Sadler Brothers Oil Company. He said the case brought before him by the Sadler team is likely to prevail on the merits. The Virginia General Assembly could take up the issue when it reconvenes next week for its 2022 session.
Sadler expects the issue to be a hot topic among Virginia legislators. Suppose the problem is not resolved in the Virginia Capitol. In that case, Sadler hopes the Circuit Court will rule on a permanent injunction in his team's favor.
"It's about fairness," Sadler said. "It's not fair when they give casinos monopolies and shut out small businesses. We're just looking to be on a level playing field."
The tax and regulation codes are another issues Sadler would like to see the General Assembly resolve fairly during the upcoming legislative session.
The latest battle on SB 971 went to the Sadler team when the state's plea to the Supreme Court fell short Monday.