Online Gambling Legislation Efforts Begin in West Virginia

by Jim Hall

Shawn FluhartyThe state of West Virginia joins the list of states that are currently seeking to pass online gambling legislation.

2017 is basically almost a fourth of the way complete and we have already seen several states introduce legislation to begin offering online gambling within their borders. It seems this could be the year that we see at least one if not several states join ranks with Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to offer either online casino, online poker gaming or both! Just recently, West Virginia saw iGaming legislation introduced which marks the 7th state this year to introduce such legislation.

First Gaming Bill

The new bill, H 3067, is the first online gaming bill to be introduced in the state of West Virginia. The legislation was surprising to many analysts in the industry but was considered a dark horse by some to pass such legislation this year.

The bill is sponsored by Delegate Shawn Fluharty and would allow internet gambling to take place in the state via existing gaming facilities that are authorized to operate. These facilities will manage and license their own online gaming sites.

The bill states:

H 3067 Bill

The bill places the West Virginia Lottery Commission in charge of the licensing and regulation of the industry. Only race tracks and licensed gaming facilities currently in operation will be allowed to obtain an iGaming license. The fee for licensing will cost $50,000, which is relatively low when compared to other states legislation language. Most states have multi-million fees in place. The tax rate is set for 14% which is similar to what other states are offering or considering.

The bill is co-sponsored by four individuals who include Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, Delegate Mike Pushkin, Delegate Joseph Canestraro and Delegate Mick Bates.

The lottery commission will be in charge of creating specific regulations if the bills is passed into law. Operators will be required to make sure that participants are 21 years of age or older as well as verify that players are located within the state borders. Responsible gaming protocols will have to be put in place to help minimize any problem gambling, with only fair and honest games provided. Policies have to be instituted that will deter cheating as well as detect if any cheating takes place. Operating funds and player funds must be segregated.

Interstate Agreements

Many states that are introducing online gambling legislation in 2017 and instantly adding interstate agreements. In a nutshell, this means that the state would be able to share player liquidity with other states that offer the same gaming options. This can be helpful in creating larger players pools which are necessary when it comes to online poker gaming.

Unauthorized online gambling is also prohibited and criminal penalties are listed in the bill for those who operate without licensing.  A first offense will result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $75,000 to $150,000. A second offense pushes the charges to a felony and double the fines to $150,000 to $300,000. Prison time may also be used as punishment.

Now, we just have to sit back and see what legislators will do with the new bill. West Virginia is considered a gaming state and has discussed online gambling and online lottery games for some time now. We may see the state emerge as the next to pass online gambling legislation, instead of the expected states like Pennsylvania who has been the front runner for some time now.