West Virginia Gears Up for Sports Betting DecisionFebruary 9, 2018 2:08 pm
Ahead of New Jersey’s sports gambling case in the Supreme Court this summer, West Virginia has introduced two individual bills in the House (HB4396) and Senate (SB415) designed to cut down on the reaction time required in order to set up a regulated sports betting industry. Commenting upon the development, Danielle Boyd, general counsel for the state’s Lottery Commission, stated:
“We believe it’s absolutely critical for West Virginia to have a law in place when, or if, the Supreme Court acts.”
Currently, just Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana are permitted under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 to offer sports betting products in the country. Nevertheless, West Virginia and numerous other states are now eagerly anticipating the outdated law being overturned, leading to a lucrative source of fresh revenues for cash strapped states as betting money subsequently flows away from illegal to regulated bookmaking operations.
West Virginia has an active gambling market, with the state having introduced a state lottery as far back as 1986, video lottery terminal gambling at its racetracks in 1995, followed by table games in 2008. At present, there is a total of 7 casinos and racinos spread our across the state offering more than 9,000 slots 226 table games, but nevertheless the industry has generated diminishing revenues over the past few years.
At the heart of its problem is an explosion in the number of surrounding states embracing casino gambling since 2006, with 2007 then proving to be a peak year for West Virginia’s casino market with almost $1 billion in revenues. The size of its market has shown a steady decline since then, however, and in 2017 had shrunk to just over half that amount, or $521.3 million.
In addition to sports betting, West Virginia is also exploring the possibility of legalizing online poker in 2018 with Delegate Shawn Fluharty having now reintroduced bill H3067. Included amongst the attractive elements of the bill designed to set up a competitive iPoker industry is charging gaming operators a low license fee of $50,000, and levying a tax rate of just 14% on online gross gaming revenue. Provisions have also been made to ensure West Virginia can participate in an interstate poker sharing pool if and when online poker legislation is eventually approved.