Online Gambling on the Minds of West Virginia Regulators
Since 2013, online casino gaming has been offered in Delaware and New Jersey. By late 2017, Pennsylvania approved the option and are only just now getting started. The hope was that once Pennsylvania was launched, other states would be more open to the activity. It seems one state is seriously considering getting started with interactive gaming. Officials within the West Virginia lottery are working to create the preliminary rules for the industry by next summer.
Online casino gambling was legalized in March of this year when online gambling legislation presented by Delegate Jason Barrett was passed into law. The state became the fifth to approve online poker gaming and fourth in the online casino category. Nevada offers online gaming but only poker.
The first step in getting the process going is to draft and file the preliminary rules for the industry. The West Virginia Lottery is working on this now and feel that the rules will be ready before summer 2020. Online gambling will function in the state similarly to the sports betting industry. Casinos will be signing contracts with third party providers to run their online gaming products. The lottery will be in charge of licensing and regulating the new industry.
To get started, an operator will need to obtain an interactive gaming license. The cost of the license is $250,000. Renewals of the license will cost $100,000 and must be completed every five years. A $100,000 price tag applies to management service provider licensing with supplier licenses cost set at $10,000.
The state will earn 15% in taxes from online gambling revenues. This is a little bit higher than the 10% that was set for sports betting.
When sports betting came to pass in the state, every casino in West Virginia rushed at the opportunity to obtain licensing. It is believed that all five operators will also want to offer online casino gaming. If everyone applies, then we should see a product from The Greenbrier, Hollywood Casino, the Mardi Gras Casino, The Mountaineer Casino and Wheeling Island.
Several factors are still to be determined including how many individual websites or skins each operator will be allowed to have. If the industry operates in a similar fashion to sports betting, then three skins will be allowed per property.
It seems as though the online casino industry should be up and running possibly by fall of next year, if everything goes according to plan. In West Virginia, online gambling or just gambling in general does not always meet the estimations or projected offerings.
The state was one of the first to offer sports betting, both land-based and online. However, complications arose early involving Delaware North and their partners, which saw the sports betting industry of the state short two land-based venues and the online component.
A problem with a third-party contractor saw Delaware North lose services at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras, plus the shutdown of their BetLucky online brand. This caused a decrease in overall earnings for the state, a significantly lower amount than what was expected for the state.
Hopefully, operators have learned from the Delaware North debacle and appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that no issues arise once online casino gaming is underway. The state could be a push point for other states to become involved in the industry over time. Since the launch of sports betting, individual states seem to be more open to offering new gaming options or expanding their current gambling industries.