Online Gambling Bill Moves Forward in West Virginia

Summary: Legislation involving online gambling in West Virginia moves forward

After becoming one of the first states in the US to legalize and launch sports betting, West Virginia is now on the path to legalizing online gambling. A new bill has emerged, paving the way for the state to become involve in iGaming. H 2934 has seen a substitute bill advance within the House Judiciary Committee during a scheduled hearing yesterday. The bill now moves on to a second committee.

Moving Quickly

West Virginia CasinosThe bill was able to pass within the House committee and will now be reviewed in a second committee. To be legalized, the bill will have to move fast as the regular session ends on March 9th, only a few weeks away.

The primary sponsor of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act is Delegate Jason Barrett. With 10 other co-sponsors, the bill is supported by both republicans and democrats. The bill would allow the five casinos in the state to offer online gambling. Included in the mix would be table games, slots and poker.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission would be in charge and licensing would cost $250,000 each. In a statement, Delegate Barrett said that West Virginia seeks to lead the charge once again by permitting their land-based casinos to provide gaming online via electronic devices. If approved, the option would bring millions of dollars in revenues to the state.

Within the bill, criminal penalties have been created for any online gambling operators who are not authorized to offer services in the state. This could include such brands as Bovada and Ignition, online casinos that offer services in the US.

Tax Percentage Increased

In the initial bill, a tax was set for online gambling at 10%. Yesterday, the committee decided to change that number to 15%. However, there were still some lawmakers who felt that the number was still too low. Delegate Tom Fast wanted to see the tax rate increased to 35%. Others argued that the 15% was on point with other states that have passed online gambling legislation.

In New Jersey, the tax is set at 15% on the high end and Nevada has a lower tax of 6.75%. The amendment was moved forward in the end with a 15% tax rate.

Now that the bill has passed within the subcommittee, it still has a way to go before it can become law. The bill moves on to the Finance sector next, where it will be reviewed by more lawmakers. Of the committee set to review, Delegate Eric Householder is the chair. Householder is a cosponsor so it would not be surprising to see the bill advance directly to the floor.

If the House passes the measure, it will then move on to the Senate. It would have to pass within the Senate as well to then reach Governor Jim Justice’s desk. The current session is short so lawmakers will have to act fast in order to see the bill pass into law.

Hopefully, we will see the measure continue to advance at a rapid pace and online gambling will become a reality in the state. It has been over a year since Pennsylvania approved online gambling and the state has yet to start offering services. It would be great to see another state in the mix.

Posted in: iGaming Regulatory & Industry