Online Gambling Being Discussed Again in West Virginia

by Kyle Miller

West VirginiaBill reintroduced in West Virginia to consider online gambling yet again.

Early last year, a bill was introduced in the state of West Virginia to try and legalize online gambling activities. The bill, H 3067, unfortunately did not pass and died just a few weeks after being introduced. With a New Year, comes the reintroduction of the bill, in the hopes that recent developments in the United States online gambling industry will spur movement for the legislation.

H 3067 Back on the Table

H 3067 is sponsored by Delegate Shawn Fluharty, with four co-sponsors included. The bill has some support and will hopefully move forward, helping the state to authorize casinos with licensing to begin offering online gaming. Within the measure, it names the West Virginia Lottery Commission as the regulator of the industry. The land-based casino gaming industry is already regulated by the Commission.

The Commission would have to set regulations and make certain determinations when it comes to online gaming in the state. Participants will have to be at least 21 years of age to take part in the online gaming activities. The Commission must also ensure that players are verified to be physically located in the state when playing the games online.

The bill also places the Commission in charge of entering into compacts with other states regarding interstate online gambling. Nevada and Delaware have been taking part in interstate online poker gaming for some time and New Jersey is set to get started and Pennsylvania is interested as well. With this included in the bill, West Virginia would be open to working with other states which would create a larger pool of players.

As far as licensing and tax rates are concerned, the amounts set are quite low. The licensing fee to operate in the state is only $50,000. This will make it quite affordable for operators existing in the state to begin offering iGaming. Taxes on gross gaming revenues are at 14%, a low amount when compared to other states, especially Pennsylvania. A big problem with Pennsylvania’s online gaming industry is that taxes are set at 16% for poker and table games while slots are much higher at 54%. The online gambling license is also much higher at $10 million.

Is Enough Support In Place?

With the legislation reintroduced, it begs the question as to if there is enough support in place to see the measure move forward. Last year, it took only two weeks after being introduced for the measure to die. The House speaker was opposed to the legislation so there was no movement. Republican Tim Armstead is still the House Speaker and he may still be against the idea. However, there are positives in place.

Last year, there was little time for support to gained as the bill only had less than a month before the legislative session was set to end. For the 2018 reintroduction, the bill will have many more months to be considered and to gain support.

The main driving point is the fact that Pennsylvania, a neighbor to the north of West Virginia, recently passed online gambling into law. Three casinos of Pennsylvania are located near the West Virginia border. They are going to see more success as they become involved in online gaming. For WV to compete, they should seriously consider online gambling legislation.

So, for now, we will have to wait and see how the legislation plays out. Will it move forward and see positive voting for online gambling to be offered in the state? Or will no support be garnered for the measure and the bill die yet again before it even gets started?