The Definitive Guide to West Virginia Online Betting
Among the many stickler points in sports, the legality of sports betting has unquestionably stirred up some of the most controversial debates. With the May Supreme Court decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, more commonly known as PAPSA, there has never been a better time to gamble on the stars of the sports world. Three states have already legalized sports betting and a fourth, West Virginia, is clearing the necessary hurdles required to make sports gambling a reality.
Perhaps because of some of the strong rhetoric coming from their attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia has long been seen as one of the premier pioneer states when it comes to legalizing sports betting. Morrissey’s views and rhetoric on the matter are fiercely unabashed as his amicus curiae briefs filed on behalf of New Jersey during their own sports gambling fights are not only forcefully clear, but approach the matter from a sturdy legal perspective. Appealing to his own parties’ staunch views of federalism, Morrisey argued that, “The U.S. Congress has no power to prevent state governments from authorizing sports betting as a form of gaming.” Whereas previous attempts to legalize sports gambling faltered as they were more closely legally scrutinized, Morrissey’s argument served as the tip of the iceberg, the tip that would eventually break the shackles off of the controversial industry.
Legal History in West Virginia
Despite momentum from the attorney general, attempts in 2017 to legalize sports betting fell through. Delegate Shawn Fluharty introduced H 2751 which would “legalize and regulate sports betting at West Virginia casinos.” The bill never passed but a $160,000 study by the state continued the steady momentum for gambling stands. Finally, in 2018, Fluharty’s third bill on the topic, S 415, passed both the Senate and the House in February. Perhaps riding the coat tail of the Supreme Court case on the topic, the bill set the stage for sports gambling to take off in West Virginia. Governor Jim Justice permitted the bill to become law; however, the dubious nature of the national debate became ever more evident as he neglected to put his own signature on the bill. The governor’s hesitance to sign off on the bill stems in large part from his favorable relationship with sports leagues, as he seeks to make the language as league friendly as possible. Despite all this, a September 1st launch date is expected as lawmakers and regulators iron out some last minute kinks.
In the aftermath of the legalization, five casinos have sprung up to fill the gambling demand in West Virginia. Located in Charles Town, Hollywood Casino (an interesting name for a casino situated in the heart of blue collar West Virginia) is the first to be licensed. In the hope that the business takes off, Penn National Gaming Inc. is closing in on a partnership agreement with the casino. Other casinos include The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort and Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack. Among these, The Casino Club has reeled in quite the catch with the acquisition of FanDuel, the second largest DFS service in the country, to serve as their sports book provider. Overall, features will be aplenty in these hot beads of sports fanatics as all casinos are expected to include live big screen TV’s on top of the typical slots and poker games.
Financial Impact on the State
According to lottery officials, the financial impact of sports gambling on West Virginia is expected to be colossal. In the first year alone, $5 million is expected to be absorbed by the state. Furthermore, by the third and fifth year of sustained sports betting, West Virginia can expect an annual haul of $13.4 and $28.7 million respectively. Moreover, the anticipated financial boom will leave its mark on areas that stretch wider than simply gross revenue. According to State Lottery Director Alan Larrick, the legalization of sports betting carries with it the potential to spur even more commerce and business within the casinos themselves. Wisely, West Virginia has gradually been allocating funds set aside to be used for sports facilities in the midst of the expected gambling rush. In one instance, state lottery attorney Danielle Boyd claims the mountain state will transfer $9 million to modernize the state’s racetrack.
To widen the availability and appeal of sports gambling, a strong online betting service is something users can get excited about. Users will be able to bet not only online, but on their own mobile device. The difficult part about online and mobile gambling is the regulation of it; regulators understand this and are taking a more moderate approach. Although online wagering must be managed through each casinos’ individual license, casinos are permitted to loosen these restrictions at their own discretion; by this, each casino may consent to allow its users to use up to three independent suppliers.
Age Requirements to Gamble
Even as the floodgates open and legalization sweeps the nation, minimum age requirements are still in effect. Different states have their own age requirements when it comes to waging sports bets online but for most, including West Virginia, the age requirement is 21. However, a few states set the requirement at 18. Nonetheless, the bevy of online gambling sites should make wagering bets on sports all the more easy for the casual sports fan.
Future of Legal Betting Online Sports Betting in WV
Despite the current frenzy surrounding the present legalization, the future of sports wagering in West Virginia looks bright. As the financial estimates earlier demonstrated, states are expected to reel in more and more as the years progress. The assumed exponential increase in the value of sports betting should coincide with its increasingly dynamic effect on everyday life. Investors and integrity monitors have begun coming out in large numbers arguing that sports betting will eventually be a vital cog in the strategy of telecommunications and data companies. Additionally, peer to peer online betting may soon be an everyday occurrence. Similar to your everyday stock exchanges, this would allow for sports betting to happen at a rate never before seen. Whatever the future may hold, it is undeniably clear that a new norm has been set: place your bets now.
Latest West Virginia Online Sports Betting News
Although West Virginia has moved quickly into the sports betting market, its progress in the area of online gambling has not been nearly as quick. Currently, although sportsbook operators intend to begin online operations shortly, online casinos remain stalled due to lack of approval from the state. The prospects for swift passage of online gambling remain unclear.
West Virginia has made two attempts to legalize online casinos in the past two years. The first attempt was a bill named HB 3067 that was introduced in March 2017 by five co-signers. The bill would have permitted physical casinos in West Virginia to also offer online casinos. The bill ran into immediate opposition. The West Virginia House Speaker did not support the bill and casinos did not undertake a significant lobbying effort to support the bill. The legislation never received a vote and died in the last legislative session shortly after it was proposed.
Features of the Bill
The bill, as introduced, would have set a low licensing fee of $50,000 for applicants and a reasonable tax rate of 14 percent. These rates are much lower than the licensing and tax rates in neighboring Pennsylvania. The legislation would legalize all forms of online gaming, including poker.
Like the other states that have legalized online casinos, games would have been limited to those players that were physically present in the state at the time of playing. The West Virginia Lottery Commission, which would be the regulatory entity for online gaming the state, would be permitted to enter inter interstate gaming compacts. HB 3067 would require the Lottery Commission to establish the regulatory rules that would implement online gambling in the state. The bill was short on specifics as to how online casinos would operate, leaving it up to the Lottery Commission to decide. However, HB 3067 does state that the internet branding shall be the licensed entity’s own name and not that of a third party. This would impact potential partnerships between West Virginia casinos and other internet operators. Partnerships would not necessarily be forbidden, but could take on a different form than they do in other states. At the same time, HB 3067 would ban operation of unlicensed casinos in the state, which would include offshore entities.
Undeterred by the failure of the first bill, the sponsors re-introduced the legislation again at the outset of the 2018 legislative session. The bill was referred to committee after introduction, and it has made no further progress since then. Although it was speculated that this version of the bill may receive a hearing, none has yet been held. With neighboring Pennsylvania having undertaken a dramatic expansion of gambling in the state, West Virginia risks seeing its gaming industry lose its competitive position.
West Virginia Casinos’ Prospects
West Virginia casinos have been struggling in general as gambling options have proliferated both online and in neighboring states. West Virginia held a strong competitive position, but gambling revenues have fallen by roughly half from what they were a decade ago as neighboring Maryland has taken market share from West Virginia. The state’s main casino, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has lost players to a major new casino in Maryland, MGM Grand, located about 90 minutes away. In 2017, casinos’ revenues fell by seven percent from the previous year. Thus, there is an imperative for West Virginia to act to prop up its struggling gaming industry. There is no specific timeline for the approval of online casinos in West Virginia.
The state’s 2018 legislative session ended in March without HB 3067 receiving a vote. West Virginia only has a three month window to enact bills as its legislature has a short session. It remains to be seen how the 2018 state legislative elections will affect the prospects for passage of the bill. The current legislature seems intractably opposed, and the forces in favor of legalization simply do not have the numbers yet to pass the bill. The bill is likely to be re-introduced at the next legislative session. At that time, the impacts of Pennsylvania’s broad legalization of gambling will be better known and may inform the legislative process for this bill.
McElhinny , Brad. “Sports Betting Starts to Take Shape at W.Va. Casinos.” WV MetroNews , 29 July 2018, wvmetronews.com/2018/07/29/sports-betting-starts-to-take-shape-at-w-va-casinos/
Purdum, David, and Ryan Rodenberg. “Future of Sports Betting: the Marketplace.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 4 May 2017, www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/17892685/the-future-sports-betting-how-sports-betting-legalized-united-states-the-marketplace-look-like.