West Virginia online gambling bill passes SenateMarch 14, 2019 2:26 pm
Online gambling could soon be legal in West Virginia as long as the state’s Governor doesn’t decide to throw a last-minute wrench into the process.
House Bill 2934, which would legalize all forms on online gambling in the state, including online poker and casino gaming, passed a vote in the Senate earlier this week. The bill easily got through by a vote of 26-7.
This followed a previous vote in the West Virginia House of Assembly in February where it easily passed 72-22. Due to a few minor changes being made to the bill in the Senate it must once again pass a vote in the House, but judging by how easily it got through the first time that shouldn’t be an issue.
When could West Virginia gambling bill become law?
Once the bill gets through the House a second time it will go before West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. As long as Justice doesn’t issue a last-second veto (which did happen in Michigan earlier this year) the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act will become law 90 days after being passed.
It is expected Justice will offer no resistance to the bill, as he did when West Virginia legalized sports betting, both online and in-person last year. Justice actually did not sign that bill and simply let it become law after five days due to what some saw as a possible conflict of interest on his part.
Justice is the owner of Greenbrier Luxury Hotel, which includes a casino giving it the right to apply for an online gambling license.
Once 2934 becomes law any of the five brick and mortar casinos in the state will be eligible to apply for an online gambling license. A five-year license will cost $250,000 with a renewal fee of $100,000. Online gambling revenue will be taxed at 15 per cent.
The five eligible casinos include the Casino Club at the Greenbrier, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort and the Wheeling Island Hotel.
The new law does not include a bad actor clause which would allow operators like PokerStars to setup shop in the state in partnership with one of the eligible casinos. PokerStars signed a partnership with Eldorado Resorts with the intent to operate online poker sites for them in the 11 states they have casinos in if those states made online poker legal.
Eldorado owns the Mountaineer Casino, and is expected to run their online poker on the PokerStars platform when they eventually launch.
Once online gambling becomes legal in West Virginia it will become the fifth state to do so, joining Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.