Summary: After legalizing sports betting last year, West Virginia is now going to consider online gambling as Representative Shawn Fluharty introduces a new bill.
In 2018, the state of West Virginia decided to legalize sports betting, following in the footsteps of several other individual states in the US. This year, the state is now going to consider online poker and casino gaming, as Representative Shawn Fluharty formally introduced a new bill this week. Fluharty was part of the sports betting push and seems to be using that momentum to see iGaming come to fruition in the state.
Understanding the New Bill
The new bill has information listed within that provides details for the new online gaming industry. A licensing fee would be set at $50,000 with gross gaming revenues taxes set at 14%. Any of the gaming facilities located in the state will be able to get started offering services. Currently, there are five gaming facilities in the state: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Wheeling Island Hotel, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort as well as The Casino Club at The Greenbrier.
Sports betting is currently overseen by the West Virginia Lottery Commission and the group would be put in charge of online gaming as well. For the state, this is the third time in three years that legislation has been introduced. Last year, similar legislation was unable to move forward, but now that sports betting has been legalized, the opportunity may be there for online gaming to be approved.
The state has launched online sports betting with the BetLucky app, so after seeing the success of this app, lawmakers may be more open to passing online gaming legislation for additional revenues in the state.
Joining a Small Club
If West Virginia was able to pass an online gambling bill, they would become the fifth state in the US to legalize online poker and/or casino gaming. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have offered services since 2013, with the first two states providing both online poker and casino games while Nevada has solely been focused on online poker games.
Pennsylvania passed legislation in 2017 and 2018 was basically a setting up phase. The state spent the year working on creating regulations and licensing operators. This year, the state should launch their online gaming sites, but no date has been provided for launch.
Other states may use 2019 as a way to bring online gaming within their borders. Michigan came so close to passing iGaming last year, with a bill gaining full support in the state. However, Governor Rick Snyder decided to veto the measure, which has caused lawmakers to start over with legislative efforts. Representative Brandt Iden already has plans to introduce new legislation so that players can access online gaming as soon as possible.
The changes made by the United States Supreme Court in May of last year regarding sports betting, when the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act was struck down, has paved the way for change across the nation. As states begin to look at sports betting legislation, they are also open to other additions within the gambling industry including online casino games, as well as poker. It will be interesting to watch and see how the bill moves forward in West Virginia and if any other states introduce legislation in the coming weeks, months.