MLB Pushes Sports Betting Integrity Fees Again, As WV Says ‘No Thanks’

Written By Thomas Casale on October 16, 2018
MLB WV sports betting

Major League Baseball and the NBA say paying them a cut of sports betting money is fair. Many lawmakers in the states disagree, including West Virginia.

Representatives from both sides of the argument got a chance to voice their thoughts on the so-called integrity fee  last week in Las Vegas during a panel at the casino industry’s top trade show, the Global Gaming Expo.

What happened in Las Vegas

Pro sports leagues and the casino industry continue to battle over the proposal for the former to get a fee following the repeal PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting, earlier this year. MLB and other pro leagues have asked for a percentage of the wagers but casinos have strongly opposed to what is called a royalty or integrity fee.

Kenny Gersh, MLB’s executive vice president of gaming, told a crowd of casino executives that a proposed 0.25 percent fee would be a royalty that casino companies should pay if they are going to make money off the sport.

More from the ESPN report:

“The state is going to designate these three, four, five very specific licensed entities: You guys get the right to make money from sports betting,” Gersh said. “From a fairness perspective we think, if you are going to designate someone to be able to make money off of what at the end of the day is our sport and our events because if the Yankees weren’t playing the Red Sox last night, you are not betting on the Yankees and the Red Sox … we think we should be involved in that.”

So far, MLB and other professional sports leagues have failed in their efforts to convince states to include the fees into their laws. Nevada has offered sports betting for years and never paid any kind of fee, so why should other states be forced to pay is an argument many advance.

WV on integrity fees

That’s been the stance in WV sports betting. When West Virginia Lottery officials filed their final rules for sports betting on Oct. 3, it didn’t include any of the proposed changes that came from representatives of major sports leagues. One of the proposed changes was the inclusion of an integrity fee.

The decision to ignore sports leagues’ requests for a fee followed what West Virginia state lawmakers proposed earlier this year when they passed a sports betting bill without giving the leagues a cut. The leagues have been involved in the process since the start and has repeatedly tried to get West Virginia to pay them an integrity fee but so far, the state hasn’t budged on its stance.

The issue isn’t dead yet in West Virginia, however. The leagues have an ally in Gov. Jim Justice, arguably the most powerful man in West Virginia politics. Justice has sided with the sports leagues in the past and reportedly even tried to muscle the state’s casino interests into an agreement with the leagues back in May 2018.

For now, West Virginia moves forward with sports betting and no integrity fee, although the only thing for certain is we haven’t heard the end of the issue.

The leagues will continue to fight for a piece of the sports betting pie, while states like West Virginia have yet to blink. Yet.

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Thomas Casale

Thomas Casale has been following the sports betting industry for 25 years. Thomas has also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while also covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA for different media outlets.

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