Bill To Ban Bettors Harassing Players Introduced Again In West Virginia

Written By Corey Sharp on January 19, 2024
Image showing angry fans yelling at a sporting event for a story about West Virginia Minority Whip Shawn Fluharty introducing a new bill that would ban sports bettors who harass athletes.

A new bill has been unveiled in West Virginia that could ban bettors who threaten or show harmful behavior to an athlete, coach or referee.

Shawn Fluharty, Minority Whip in the West Virginia House of Delegates, introduced the bill with the idea of protecting those involved in a sporting event. It’s also important to Fluharty that other states share the same messaging, too.

Despite West Virginia sports betting seeing a dip in overall handle, there’s no excuse for bettors to display poor behavior at any time.

West Virginia debuts bill to protect players and coaches

After a similar bill did not pass last year, Fluharty introduced HB4700 to the legislature earlier this week, and it is headed to the House Judiciary Committee. The summary of the bill reads:

“The purpose of this bill is to allow the Lottery Commission to ban persons from sports betting who have harassed or shown a harmful pattern of conduct directed at any person involved in a sporting event.”

Any bettor who is caught harassing players, coaches or referees will be restricted from wagering in the Mountain State.

Fluharty has been outspoken on not only consumer protections, but the defense of athletes and coaches who are on the court and field playing.

Ohio and Maryland have recently passed a similar law. On the Safe Bet Show podcast, Fluharty spoke about the importance of states collaborating with each other, specifically with something as serious as this bill. He said:

“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. But if we don’t share that information with West Virginia or Pennsylvania, then it doesn’t really have any teeth to it.

“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.”

It’s time Pennsylvania and New Jersey, other bordering states, step up, too.

New bill hopefully improves well-being of student-athletes

Should the bill get passed this year, it could optimistically give student-athletes some peace of mind.

The NCAA released a study last May, during Mental Health Awareness month, reporting that student-athletes are experiencing mental health concerns 1.5-2 times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio first brought the bill to light when University of Dayton men’s basketball coach, Anthony Grant, addressed the unwarranted scrutiny his players received to the media.

“There’s some laws that have recently been enacted, that really, to me, could change the landscape of what college sports is all about,” Grant said after a game last year. “And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me. They have families. They don’t deserve that. Mental health is real.”

There have been plenty of incidents of college players receiving physical threats, including death, through social media.

West Virginia’s bill would include professional athletes, coaches and referees, too.

No one involved in sports should be subjected to behavior like that. Hopefully, this is something all states with legal sports betting can agree on and enact as soon as possible.

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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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