West Virginia may just be on verge of launching its online gambling industry and becoming the fifth sated to do so. This news comes after the state’s Senate passed an online casino gaming bill by a 26-7 vote. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (H 2934), the bill, is now closer to being passed to than ever before.
All that remains for this to happen are two important steps with the first being a review by the House for concurrence since the Senate made some minor amendments to the bill – this will probably happen on March 9 when the legislature adjourns. After that, the bill will then land on Governor Jim Justice’s desk where it will hopefully be signed into law.
If history is anything to go by, the governor’s is arguably one of the most crucial steps for gambling bills in the United State. A recent scenario where the governor’s desk tipped the scale of an online gaming bill that had been passed and approved by lawmakers was in Michigan where the governor opted to veto the bill. Online gaming proponents in West Virginia also have quite a bit to be skeptical about especially considering the fact the governor also declined to sign a bill that proposed the establishment of a state-regulated gaming market last year.
Details of the West Virginian Gambling Bill
In every sense of the word, the state’s gaming bill is prototypical in nature, that is, it calls for a regulated online gambling market where only people who are 21 years or older will be allowed to participate. It will also be limited to people within the state’s borders – under current circumstances, this is particularly great for the state since it will be automatic compliance with the recent reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act by the United States Department of Justice.
Online sports betting will also be in the mix but it will be limited to the existing land-based licensees in the state. The operators will have to part with $250,000 apiece for each of the online gaming licenses they are interested in. These licenses will be renewable every five years for an additional $100,000. Platform and service management licensees will pay $100,000 while the supplier licenses will cost $10,000. Also, the state will impose a 15 percent tax on online gambling revenue which is relatively fair especially when compared to the tax horrors that states like Pennsylvania plan to put the operators through.
While there are currently a number of complications thanks to the murky mess made by the new DOJ interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, the entry of West Virginia into the online gaming scene would be a big boost for online gaming in the country. In fact, if the Wire Act is reversed to its 2011 version, shared liquidity agreements will be possible between the state and neighboring states (like Pennsylvania) where online poker is legal.