Bill To Ban Bettors Harassing Athletes Moving Through WV Legislature

Written By Corey Sharp on February 12, 2024
Angry sports fans on white background for story on WV sports bettor harassment bill advancing through the legislature

A bill introduced last month that bans bettors from harassing players, coaches, and referees was voted out of the Judiciary Committee in West Virginia last week.

Shawn Fluharty, Minority Whip in the West Virginia House of Delegates, introduced the bill last month.

The idea of the new legislation is to protect those involved on the court or field at sporting events. Fluharty made this a priority as other markets such as Ohio and Maryland have passed similar laws.

House Bill 4700 passes through Judiciary Committee

The West Virginia sports betting market is trying to protect the participants of a professional and college game. House Bill 4700, which is an add-on to the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act, has been voted onto the House Floor in the Mountain State.

A vote out of the House Floor gets the bill another step closer to getting enacted.

The addition to the bill self-excludes anyone in West Virginia who abuses a player, coach, or referee of a game.

The new clause reads:

“A patron may be banned from sports betting pursuant to subsection (d) of this section if the commission determines that the patron has harassed or shown a harmful pattern of conduct directed at a sports official, coach or any participants of a sporting event.”

Fluharty is hoping for a different outcome this year, as he introduced a similar bill last session that did not pass.

‘Interstate cooperation’ a big deal for Fluharty, sports betting in WV

Despite the sports betting market maturing in West Virginia, it shouldn’t stop the state from putting even more safeguards in place, not only for bettors, but for participants of a game, too.

The Mountain State just wrapped up its sixth football season over the weekend. While there doesn’t appear to be much growth left, the next steps the market could start focusing on is collaboration.

States can share information with each other about consumer protections, as well as the protection to those on the field. On the Safe Bet Show podcast last November, Fluharty spoke of the importance, especially for this particular bill:

“I border Ohio and Pennsylvania and if Ohio passes a law that says if you threaten a player we’re going to take away your ability to bet,” he said. “But if we don’t share that information with West Virginia or Pennsylvania, then it doesn’t really have any teeth to it.”

Sports betting has been legal in West Virginia since 2018, along with WV online casinos in 2020. Fluharty made it clear that the new focus could start taking shape. He said last December:

“Another area we’re going to have in many states is interstate cooperation with the regulatory side to share this information so we’re properly protecting not just the players on the field but those who have the phone in their hand and playing as well.”

If more states collaborate and help each other, it should help everyone involved in the gambling industry.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Corey Sharp

Corey Sharp is the Lead Writer at PlayWV bringing you coverage of the WV online casino market in the Mountain State. Corey is a 4-for-4 Philly sports fan and previously worked as a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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