Summary: Online casino gaming in West Virginia will be a reality eventually, with lawmakers predicting that early 2021 will be when operations begin.
The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act has been approved, making the state of West Virginia the latest to approve iGaming. However, online casinos will not be launched any time soon. The state Lottery has about a year to create regulations for the industry and do not seem to be in any hurry to get started. The group has until June of next year to finalize how the industry will operate.
It seems the director of the state lottery, John Myers, believes that online gambling will be up and running by February 2021. While this is a positive, it is still over a year away. Representatives were surprised that the legislation was able to move through the state so quickly. Delegate Jason Barrett was the sponsor of the measure, a lawmaker that was surprised at the easy path to approval.
While the lottery seems set on launching in around two years, other lawmakers want to see the industry up and running as quickly as possible. Delegate Shawn Fluharty is a strong supporter of online casino gambling who wants to see the state get started this year. According to Fluharty, he expects to be up and running quickly, hopeful that there will not be any issues as the state saw with sports betting.
According to the Delegate, the iGaming industry should have a larger impact than sports betting for the state. The Delegate has compared other industries and feels that the online casino industry has the ability to generate more revenue than sports betting, being an essential game changer for the state.
In the state, the new industry would be limited. There are only five licenses available. The five current gaming operators in the state have the ability to apply for licensing. The license will cost $250,000 initially. The license is good for five years. A renewal fee must be paid every five years set at $100,000. Revenues of the new industry will be taxed at 15%.
What the industry will offer is still up in the air. If the state were to be like others that offer online gaming, and we expect they will, we should see online slot games, poker, and table games like roulette and blackjack.
Because the state has yet to figure out the implementation date and there is still much to discuss, many aspects of the industry remain unknown. It seems it will be some time before we know any more information on the new industry.
I imagine that the West Virginia Lottery will have to figure out the regulations long before any other decisions are made. What exactly they will choose to do is anyone’s guess. We will stay on top of any developments and report as information is made available. Hopefully we will know sooner rather than later as to what the lottery will expect from operators.
On a positive side, the passage of online gambling legislation in West Virginia is promising. Hopefully, it will spur other states to do the same and we will see an influx of states preparing to offer online casino and poker gaming.