West Virginia Online Poker Bill Introduced

Michigan House Passes Comprehensive iGambling Bill

It looks like some real legislative headway could finally be made in 2019, after a West Virginia online poker bill was introduced this week.

Just a few days after a bill was passed in New York state trying to bring online poker to the Empire State, legislation was introduced to bring legal, regulated online gambling to the Mountain State.

For the third year in a row a bill was introduced in West Virginia to legalize online gambling. It might actually have a chance this time took, following on the heels of sports gambling being legalized in the state late last year.

What is the West Virginia online poker bill called?

The new bill, HB 2178, was introduced by Democratic representative Shawn Fluharty and sponsored by fellow Democratic Representative Joseph Canestraro. Fluharty was also behind the bill that was introduced last January to try and legalize online gambling in West Virginia which quickly died after getting little support.

Under HB 2178, the five brick-and-mortar casinos in West Virginia would be allowed to operate online sites that offered online poker and casino games. They would need to apply for a license at the cost of $50,000 and all gross gaming revenue would be taxed at 14 per cent.

The tax percentage is in line with most other states, but the license fee is much lower when compared to the $10 million license fee proposed in New York State earlier this month.

The five casinos in West Virginia that would be allowed to run the online sites under the bill include Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, The Casino Club at the Greenbrier, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, and Wheeling Island Hotel. The application process would officially begin 90 days after the passing of legislation.

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Online poker and casino gaming would fall under the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Lottery Commission. They already watch over sports gambling as legislated last year.

Other notable provisions in the West Virginia online poker bill include the allowance for future sharing of player liquidity between the state and others where online poker is legal, such as Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. The bill also made it illegal for players to use online bots or any form of artificial intelligence on online gaming sites in the state.

One aspect missing from the West Virginia bill that was found in New York state’s recent proposal was a ‘bad actor’ clause. New York’s proposal said that anyone that continued to do business in the USA after the passing Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 would be barred from applying from a license.

West Virginia made no mention of that but did have some third-party branding limitations that could keep some of the online poker mainstays from setting up shop in the state.

The bill will now go to committee for study. If it passes through committee it would they reach the floor of the House or the Senate in the state. It would need to pass through both to reach Governor Jim Justice.


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