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West Virginia Online Gambling Bill Emerges

Summary: Online gambling is on the minds of West Virginia lawmakers as legislation moves forward in the state.

Online gambling discussions in the United States have kind of been placed on the backburner after sports betting was made available in May 2018. After the US Supreme Court ruled that sports betting could be legalized in individual states, lawmakers wasted no time getting started. It seems state after state have been pushing new bills to begin offering sports betting. While online gambling has not been the hot topic, it is being discussed in one state were sports betting has already taken shape.

West Virginia

Lawmakers in West Virginia passed sports betting into law some time ago and the option is already up and running via gaming brands in the state. Now, it seems a group of lawmakers are leading the charge in order to see online gaming come to pass as well. Delegate Jason Barrett is working on bringing iGaming to the region, via H 2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act.

The act would legalize online gambling in West Virginia, giving the overall gambling industry yet another area of expansion. The proposal was introduced by Barrett last Friday and has been placed within the House Judiciary for consideration.

The bill would allow for the four racetrack gaming venues of the state as well as The Greenbrier to offer online gambling options. Each of these five properties also offer sports betting. The Lottery Commission would be in charge of regulating and administering the interactive gaming industry for the state, offering a license that will last for five years. The license would cost $250,000 and a 10% tax rate would be set for revenues.

For rules regarding the new industry, the bill directs those in charge to review other states that offer online gambling and adopt a similar framework. New Jersey should be the state that lawmakers look to when it comes to online gambling. The state has continued to be the front runner, being very successful when it comes to online poker and casino gaming.

Prohibiting Offshore Sites

In the language of the bill, there are terms included that would stop offshore sites from taking part in interactive gaming in West Virginia. The commission will not be able to grant a license if a company or individual has been directly employed by an illegal book or offshore book that provided services for the United States or accepted black market bets in the US.

In this area, the sports betting legislation was used to create the language for the online gambling bill. When it comes to iGaming, sites which have been operating offshore will most likely not be allowed to offer services in West Virginia.

The bill being considered is the second interactive gaming option on the table in the state this year. H 2178 was created by Delegate Shawn Fluharty in January, a bill that has been around for a few years and unable to move forward.

Online gambling has been unable to move forward in the state due to issues with the Lottery. The state’s Lottery has had reservations on the subject, but now they seem more on board, based on the new legislation.

Barrett feels that the state has potential to pass online gambling into law. Since sports betting has been legalized, the state has made great strides in providing more flexibility for the gaming industry of the state and the lawmaker is encouraged by the support provided for his bill.

The current session does end on March 9th, so there is little time remaining in order to see the bill move forward.