New Sports Betting Bill Introduced in West Virginia

by Kyle Miller

West VirginiaA new bill supporting sports betting in West Virginia has emerged, providing mobile betting as well.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission have put their support behind a new measure introduced in the state, set to see the legalization of sports betting. The Senate saw the introduction of S 415, a bill that would legalize sports betting via the state lottery with regulations in place for safe gaming. The only way this would come to pass, if legalized, would be if the United States Supreme Court decides to rule PASPA, a federal ban on sports betting, unconstitutional.

West Virginia Joins the Bandwagon

Since late last year, several states have decided to pass or consider legislation regarding sports betting. It seems many feel that SCOTUS will rule in favor of New Jersey in the Christie vs. NCAA case. If they do, sports betting would not be restricted to just four states but every state in the nation would have the ability to decide if they want to legalize the option.

In the bill, it recognizes the current state of affairs in the US regarding illegal sports betting. The legislation states that there are illegal operations in the US that pose a threat to the welfare and safety of residents in West Virginia. The bill would like to see penalties in place for prosecution of illegal operators while at the same time, creating a secure and regulated environment for sports wagering in the state.

What Does the Bill Include?

S 415 would put regulation in space covering sports wagering with the state lottery in charge of overseeing the new industry. Sporting events in the college and pro categories would be allowed with participants be 21 years of age or older. The five operating gaming facilities of the state would be allowed to offer sports wagering an online/mobile wagering could be offered if the lottery chooses to allow it.

Sports betting operators would have to complete a licensing process with an application fee paid amounting to $250,000. If approved, the license will last for five years and must be renewed at a cost of $100,000. Operators will be taxed 10% of gross gaming revenues.

West Virginia is home to five gaming facilities, the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort as well as the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. Each of these facilities would be allowed to offer sports betting if they so choose. It would be surprising to see any of the operators opting out as sports betting would provide additional revenues.

Reportedly, the idea behind the bill comes from the state lottery. The Charleston Gazette-Mail has reported that the state Lottery Commission would be introducing legislation this session to allow sports betting to take place in the casinos of the state. The lottery has been eyeing sports betting for some time now. In 2017, the commission decided to have an analysis conducted of the market and with their involvement this year, they continue to support the potential for sports betting in West Virginia.

Several states are looking to provide sports betting within their borders. New Jersey was the first, followed by New York and Pennsylvania, as the states to legalize sports betting, and simply waiting on the ruling by the Supreme Court to get started. It will be interesting to see if West Virginia is the next to join this group or other states will move forward passing sports betting legislation into law.