The Roanoke-based Asian American Business Owners Association filed a complaint to the attorney general’s office to block the ban in June that cited comments from Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, who referred to legislative efforts supporting skill games as “the Ali Baba bill” and Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, who said they were “sleazy.”
“It was a direct slap in our face to our minority-owned business operators in the commonwealth,” Morrissey said in reference to the comments. “It was not only racist, not only disrespectful, but it showed a complete and utter disregard for these working men and women.”
Morrissey said it was “unfathomable” Herring would not investigate the situation or file a civil rights violation.
“The folks behind me are the backbone to our economic vitality in the commonwealth,” he said, referring to the roughly 100 small-business owners. “These machines, and these operations, allow all of these people behind me to keep their stores open during a pandemic, to send their kids to college, to pay for their mortgage and to support their communities. The ban on these machines has crushed their business.”
The ban on skill games has largely impacted minority businesses — particularly South Asian, Middle Eastern, Black and women-owned — said Ezaddin Alasad, president of the Yemeni American Association of Virginia and the owner of four convenience stores in the region that had skill games. He added that such establishments are facing revenue loss and the possibility of having to close.