Online Sports Betting Stalls in West Virginia

West Virginia flag
West Virginia is pushing for legal online casinos and online poker, which the House has approved.

30-second summary

  • West Virginia made sports betting legal in 2018 and is now pushing for online gambling
  • The state’s online sportsbooks have been halted by a contract dispute
  • Online casinos and online poker are likely to be legalized in the state
  • Governor Jim Justice will have to sign the bill into law

Push for legal online gambling

Many states across the United States are looking at expanding gambling laws to legalize online gambling. This is the case in West Virginia, where many hope to make all forms of online gambling legal.

Five Democrat lawmakers are leading the push for legal online gambling to come to fruition in 2019. Bill H3067 was originally submitted to the house in March 2018 by Delegate Shawn Fluharty. It calls for the casinos in the state to be able to offer online gambling to state residents.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission would regulate online gambling. The minimum age would be 21. West Virginia would probably enter into compacts with neighboring states.

The bill proposes a license fee of $50,000 (£38,200). This is in stark contrast to the $10m (£7.6m) license fee Pennsylvania collects from online operators. There would be a 14% tax on the gross online gambling revenues.

Recent gambling law changes

West Virginia is in the midst of a gambling revolution. It was one of the first states to make sports betting legal after the federal ban was ended in May 2018. The state anticipated that the Supreme Court would rule to end the ban, so a sports betting bill was ready to go even before decision.

Those operating sportsbooks have to pay a license fee of $100,000 (£76,400) and their adjusted gross revenues are taxed at 10%. The first sportsbooks were open by the time the pro and college football seasons started, which is always the most lucrative time of year for sportsbooks in the United States.

Setbacks to legal online sports betting

While the push for online gambling was going well, there have been some recent setbacks. Online sports betting now seems on the back burner. However, progress is being made on legalizing online poker and online casino play.

The mobile, online, and retail sportsbooks at the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos have been suspended. Through its BetLucky brand, Delaware North owns both of these facilities, which are the only legal online sportsbooks in the state.

The provider of their sportsbooks platform is Miomni Gaming, which is in a contract dispute with a technology supplier.

This means that these two facilities temporarily cannot accept sports bet. They will, of course, be honoring all bets that already have been made through the platform. The other operators in West Virginia, William Hill, FanDuel, and DraftKings, only have retail sportsbooks.

Online casinos and poker close

On a more positive front, the state senate approved the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act by a vote of 26-7. This means that the five retail gambling operations in the state can now offer legal online casino games and online poker.

Only a few minor amendments were made to this bill after passage by the House of Representatives. The House needs to approve those amendments.

Governor Jim Justice then needs to sign the bill into law and West Virginia would become just the fifth state in the country to allow online gambling.

Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are the other states to have allowed it. No online platform has yet been launched in Pennsylvania.

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