West Virginia Introduces New Bill to Regulate Online Gaming

It’s official: the West Virginia lawmakers have filed a new bill whose aim is to regulate online gaming in the Mountain State.

In addition to this, the new piece of legislation would also regulate online poker and casino, and more.

Can the New Proposal Do It?

The proposal, named House Bill 2178, has been introduced by the representatives Shawn Fluharty and Joe Canestraro, and if successful, it would amend the 1931 Code of West Virginia, making significant changes in this area.

This bill was filed on January 9, and its stop will be the House Judiciary Committee, where it will be further reviewed, after which it will be passed to the House Finance Committee. However, the road to becoming law is a long and arduous one. The proposal will have to get the approval of the state legislature before the state’s Governor can sign it into law.

In addition to bringing extra funds to state coffers, the bill would bring significant benefits to the state’s racing and agricultural industries by providing them with the necessary financial support.

The bill itself explains that developments in technology and recent legal decisions had created an opportunity to legalise interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming and licensed facilities to or for the benefit of the communities in which they operated.

Under the provisions of the new bill, the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) will be tasked with regulation of online gaming, including table games, video lottery games, and interactive racetrack games, while only those facilities authorised from state Racing Commission will be eligible to get the necessary certification.

An Important Move for West Virginia

In other words: only existing gambling facilities will be able to apply.

Only five venues in West Virginia fulfill these prerequisites: Penn National’s Hollywood Casino, Eldorado Resorts’ Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort; Delaware North’s Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island venues, and Casino Club.

According to the proposal, all licensees will have to pay a fee of $50,000, while a 14% gross gaming revenue tax will have to be paid by each applicant. The licensees will not be allowed to offer any third party skins whatsoever.

The bill introduces strict penalties for unlicensed gambling. First-time offenders will pay a fine that can go up to $150,000 and will face a year in prison, while those who repeat this offense will see their fine jump to $300,000, along with an increased prison term of 3 years.

West Virginia made several attempts to legalise online gambling, but it didn’t succeed in getting the necessary support.  However, following the last year’s decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn the controversial PASPA of 1992 marked the beginning of a new era for the gambling industry in the US. West Virginia legalised sports betting in 2018, and this would represent another important step forward.

If this proposal goes through, West Virginia would become the fifth state with some form of online poker or casino, in addition to New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.