Bill Stanley, attorney for Hermie Sadler, talks to supporters and the media on the Greensville County Courthouse steps Monday. Circuit Court judge Louis Lerner ordered a temporary injunction allowing “skill games” across Virginia to return to service.

Local small business owner and former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and his legal team won an important victory in his lawsuit against the commonwealth of Virginia on Monday afternoon. Circuit Court judge Louis Lerner ordered a temporary injunction allowing “skill games” across Virginia to return to service.

The result is a major blow to a controversial law passed by the outgoing Ralph Northam administration which took effect July 1. This law, SB 971, banned small businesses from operating skill games.

Sadler and his legal team, led by State Senator Bill Stanley, effectively argued that the law was unconstitutional and unfairly impacted small business owners such as Sadler himself, who owns a chain of truck stops and restaurants across Virginia. At one point, Sadler estimated that he stood to lose $750,000 per year if the skill game ban stood.

“When we first started, my concerns were more about morals and what was morally right and what was morally unfair. I knew nothing about the law or what was legal and what was not,” said Sadler. “I really didn’t give us much of a chance, but I really felt like it was worth fighting for.”

A large crowd gathered outside the Greensville County Courthouse in Emporia, eagerly awaiting word on the verdict. Some in the crowd had an important stake in the outcome as owners and operators of skill games before the ban took effect in July.

One of these was Michael Barley, Chief Public Affairs Officer for Pace-O-Matic, one of the leading skill game manufacturers.

“Since the ban was put in place, we haven’t operated here,” said Barley. “It has been difficult for a lot of our small business partners here in Virginia and the coin-op industry who distribute the machines and place them in bars, restaurants, and convenience stores, and it has been tough for those locations who rely on that revenue.”

Although Stanley and Sadler were successful in winning an injunction, they stress that their work is not over. Another hearing will take place on May 18, 2022, where they will seek a declaratory judgement to permanently overturn the law.

“Our battle has just begun. It’s not over,” said Stanley. “We want to make sure that there’s a permanent solution that helps small business…that saves small business and allows these skill games in small businesses to compete with the big guys and the casinos and the Rosie’s and everybody else.”