You can now play on Vegas-style slot machines at Humboldt Steel Corporation in Portsmouth

Posted at 11:17 AM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-24 12:28:02-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Humboldt Steel Corporation in Portsmouth has installed Virginia skill and entertainment machines for patrons to play.

They're the first bar and restaurant to have a legal form of gambling in the city.

The establishment announced it on their Facebook page on March 21.

Chris Bowman, owner of Humboldt, told News 3's Aleah Hordges there has been more than $3,000 in winnings so far.

It's something the business hopes will draw people in to give the area a new edge and a reason to hang out in downtown Portsmouth.

"Now that we can have them here in Tidewater, there's a lot of really happy people because they love these machines and they want to come and sit and have a meal and have a couple of drinks and play the machine, and it's what they like to do," said Bowman.

He added that they were able to get the skill and entertainment machines with a Virginia ABC license.

It took them a year to get approval with the company and for the city to install them.

"If you had a regular business and you didn't have an ABC license, you wouldn't be able to have these machines," Bowman mentioned. "They're sanctioned through ABC and supplied to us by Southern Amusements."

Virginia Skill and Entertainment machines are classified as contests of skill, which is legal in the commonwealth.

They pay out a very high percentage - up to $5,000.

"If you have two of one symbol, you have to pick the correct third symbol in order to make three in a row, and if you do you're a winner. It's that simple," Bowman replied.

Humboldt Steel Corporate added that it's a win-win for them and everyone who plays.

The owner said that there'll be more machines added at the Norfolk location soon.

"They put it back into the machine or they buy more pizza and they tip a bartender or waitress," said Bowman. "You know, it's their fun money and that's the way they spend it."

News 3 reached out to Virginia ABC Authority for comment.

"Virginia ABC receives requests from electronic gaming companies to review their games to determine if we would place regulatory charges on alcoholic beverage licensed establishments using their games, pursuant to the prohibition on having illegal gambling on the premises. However, any determination made by ABC is limited to ABC charges, and is not binding to other agencies or local officials that may have jurisdiction in this arena. At this time, we are unable to assess whether the device at this establishment and its games are part of a previously evaluated gaming company," said public relations manager, Dawn Eischen.