The Virginia Lottery has received a subpoena from The Stanley Law Group, the law firm representing NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler. It requests documents pertaining to its relationship with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellot as part of a challenge to stop alleged ‘continuing efforts to kill the skills game industry, harming small businesses’.
Sadler, who has a long-standing relationship with Virginia Lottery via the NASCAR sport, is bringing a lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia aiming to permanently overturn Senate Bill 971 (2021), “the skill games ban” which is set for trial on May 18.
It comes after the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania entered a permanent injunction against Eckert for its conflict of interest in representing Pace-O-Matic while also working ‘against skills games on behalf of casino clients in multiple jurisdictions’.
Pace-O-Matic is the largest distributor of skill games in Virginia, and the injunction resulted from a lawsuit it brought against Eckert two years ago. In the lawsuit, the Court ruled that Mark Stewart, Eckert’s Gaming Group lead, had “actively and clandestinely engaged” in an “obviously intentional subterfuge” in representing casinos against the Pace-O-Matic’s interests despite also being a client.
Concerns have now been raised that the Virginia Lottery has entered into a consulting agreement with Eckert and Stewart, with The Stanley Law Group alleging that there is an ‘obvious conflict of interest’.
“The injunction by the federal court in Pennsylvania indicates continued serious ethical violations on the part of the attorneys representing the large out-of-state gambling companies working against Virginia small businesses like my client, Hermie Sadler,” commented Bill Stanley of The Stanley Law Group.
“This subpoena requesting certain documents from the Virginia Lottery is a critical piece of our legal argument before the Greensville County Circuit Court that Virginia did not have a valid and compelling state interest to ban skills games.”
The law firm has argued that it is ‘appalling’ that the Virginia Lottery has entered into an agreement with Eckert, adding that it is an ‘attempt to violate the rights of the small and family-owned businesses’.
A statement from the firm read: “The Lottery knew – or, at minimum, should have known – Mr Stewart represented out-of-state casinos committed to dominating the state’s gaming industry by making skills games illegal in Virginia.
“Nevertheless, the Lottery entered into a contract with Mr Stewart and Eckert to provide advice on who should be allowed to participate in the emerging gaming marketplace in Virginia.
“They worked directly against the interests of skill games, their manufacturers, and Virginia small businesses. Hermie Sadler and his fellow small business owners have an absolute right to know the truth about the Lottery’s complicity.”