Summary: While West Virginia seemed to be on the fast track to legalizing online gaming, officials of the state have now decided to consider the issue in the future, instead of now.
A meeting was held within the House Finance Committee last week which discussed several avenues of gambling expansion in the state of West Virginia. Many subjects were on the table, with some moving forward and others being delayed. Unfortunately for online gambling proponents, the process of seeing casino style gaming available online in the state has now been delayed.
Approved, Not Approved
Officials involved with the lottery of the state decided to throw their support behind bills that would expand keno gaming as well as allow for limited video lottery gaming in retail outlets. Online gambling however, did not receive such approvals. During the House Finance Committee meeting, the Director of the state Lottery, John Myers, stated that the agency wants to be able to reconsider online gaming in the future.
The Lottery reportedly sees potential with online gaming, but wants to halt discussions and come back to it in the future. This year, a bill has already been filed to see online gambling come to life in the state. Delegate Shawn Fluharty along with four other democrat lawmakers filed the H 3067 measure, proposing online gaming for the state.
The legislation has showed up during the last three meetings of the committee but has yet to move forward. Language in the bill would allow the existing casinos in the state to operate iGaming. The state Lottery would act as overseer. The industry would have a $50,000 licensing fee set per license with online gaming gross revenues taxed at 14%.
While the lottery may not be interested in the industry just yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t come to fruition. Another legislative effort may be in the works that could spark new life into the idea. No such legislation has been proposed yet, but reportedly, a committee chair is showing support on the matter.
Additional Gaming Legislation
While the lottery officials are not on board with iGaming just yet, they are still agreeable to changes within the existing gambling industry. Right now, the players of the lottery can cash in their winning keno tickets with any retailer in the state. However, tickets must be purchased only at venues where the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration has approved licensing.
With legislation H 2184, keno tickets would be up for purchase at new locations, including convenience stores. The option would certainly make gaming easier and will most likely produce a nice new addition to the stream of keno revenues.
A second bill, H 2191, was also introduced, one that would allow the limited video lotteries to take place. Distributors of such games could be retailers which would help the outlets remain viable.
In the meantime, the state has been busy setting up their new sports betting industry. Regulators continue to work on mobile applications for the industry. All five casinos want to offer mobile wagering so players can bet on the go. The land-based services have been successful thus far and are only expected to see an increase in revenues as the industry continues to grow.
Right now, there are two gaming venues that offer online and mobile wagering platforms. Both the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island facilities were able to get their mobile offerings up and running to begin online operations.