West Virginia Lawmakers File Bill To Fast-Track Online Gambling

Published January 15, 2019 by Brett C

West Virginia Lawmakers File Bill To Fast-Track Online Gambling

Lawmakers Shawn Fluharty and Joe Canestraro filed a bill on January 9, 2019 to regulate online casino, and online poker in the state of West Virginia.

It's official: West Virginia lawmakers recently filed a new bill to legalize online poker and online casino game in the state. The bill was introduced by legislators Joe Canestraro and Shawn Fluharty. According to the contents of the bill, the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) has been tasked with establishing a framework for regulating interactive online games, including table games, video lottery games, and interactive racetrack games.

Regulated Sports Betting Offers Hope for Online Gambling in WV

The bill requires approval in the state legislature (The House and Senate) before it can be signed into law by the Governor of West Virginia. On several other occasions, West Virginia has attempted to pass legislation regulating online gambling, but failed to win over the necessary support. Fortunately, the SCOTUS decision to overturn PASPA of 1992, in mid-2018 has given tremendous impetus to regulated online gambling in the state.

If the bill (filed on January 9, 2019) manages to make its way through various chambers of the state legislature, it will authorize the West Virginia Lottery Commission to regulate online casino gaming. The bill is only applicable to existing WV gambling facilities and legislation for online casino applications will be processed 90 days after the bill becomes law. According to the proposals, licensees will pay a fee of $50,000 and a 14% state tax on online gaming revenues.

Possibility of Interstate Gambling Compacts Discussed

Additionally, the bill will prevent the use of poker bots for online poker play, or any other form of collusion between players. According to the contents of the bill, ‘… Authorized interactive gaming, once fully developed, will allow persons in the state to participate in interactive games; not only with other persons in this state, but with persons in other cooperating jurisdictions in the United States…’ This refers to interstate gambling contacts such as the one that currently exists between New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada.

Of special importance is the opportunity to provide legalized online poker in West Virginia. The pending legislation will be applicable to 5 bricks and mortar gambling establishments in West Virginia, including Casino Club, at the Greenbrier, Delaware North's Mardi Gras, Wheeling Island venues, Penn National's Hollywood Casino at Charlestown Races, Racetrack and Resort, and Eldorado Resorts Mountaineer Casino.

According to the terms of the bill, any unlicensed gambling is punishable with a $150,000 fine and a year imprisonment. Second offenders will face a fine of $300,000 and up to 3 years in prison. The bill will now be making its way through the House Judiciary Committee and the House Finance Committee.

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