Summary: An online gambling bill in West Virginia continues to move forward, passing yet another hurdle late last week.
While most states in the US seem to be focused on sports betting legislation, West Virginia has their eye on online gambling. The state has seen quick progression of legislation involving online gambling. Already offering sports betting within their borders, West Virginia lawmakers now want to get in on the online gambling market.
In the state, lawmakers of the House passed H 2934 with the lower chamber approving the measure with a vote of 72 to 22. The bill would legalize online casino and poker gaming in the state. Titled the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, the measure is now headed towards the Senate. The House was in heavy favor of the measure and it is believed that the Senate will be just as approving.
If the State Senate approves the measure, the online gambling bill will move on to Governor Jim Justice’s desk to be signed into law. If signed, West Virginia would become the 5th state in the US to have legalized online gambling.
The bill was introduced by Delegate Jason Barrett and has 10 fellow co-sponsors. The bill would allow existing casinos in the state to offer online casino and poker gaming. Players would have to be physically located in the state to take part in gaming online.
The bill will set a tax rate at 15% for revenues generated and operators will have to pay a relatively low fee of $250,000 for licensing. All around, the bill seems to be accepted by lawmakers and gaming operators alike, with the potential to pass before the current session comes to an end.
Will the New Wire Act Opinion get in the Way?
Many analysts are pondering whether or not the new opinion of the Wire Act by the Department of Justice will play a role in the online gambling bill’s passage. Just a few months ago, the DOJ announced that the Wire Act no longer applied to solely online interstate sports betting but all online interstate gambling.
Concerns were raised that the change would cause lawmakers in West Virginia to move forward with caution. However, the opinion does not seem to have affected the efforts of lawmakers to see online gambling come to pass in the state. Other states are also considering online gambling legislation including Michigan and Kentucky.
Hopefully, as West Virginia continues their efforts, it will encourage others to do the same. Certainly, if lawmakers legalize online gambling in the state, it will push others to follow suit.
In the US, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have established successful online gambling industries and have been in operation since 2013. Pennsylvania passed legislation in 2017 and should get started sometime this year. If West Virginia were to pass legislation as well, it might have a snowball effect. We could see several states begin to propose online gambling legislation to see iGaming offered within their borders.
All eyes will be on West Virginia in the coming days and weeks as the Senate begins reviewing the measure. Supporters are sure to go crazy if the Senate votes in approval of the measure. If that is the outcome, the governor will simply have to sign the measure for online gaming to become a reality in the state. Hopefully that is outcome we will see and the online gaming market in the United States will become just a little bit larger!
We will stay up to date on the latest developments and report as new information is provided.