Hail Mary: NFL Finally Sneaks Its Way Into WV Sports Betting Debate

Written By Kim Yuhl on March 1, 2019 - Last Updated on March 11, 2022

Currently, H 2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wager Act sits in the WV Senate Judiciary. Interesting enough, discussions around the permanent West Virginia sports betting rules are happening in the Judiciary in the other chamber.

Reporting from Legal Sports Report indicates the NFL and its lobbyists are in Charleston requesting a series of mandates be included that would impact the five WV sportsbooks.

It is an interesting development. The league has, thus far, kept its distance from the sports betting “integrity fee” debate and lobbying efforts in the past.

Its requests, however, do not include an integrity fee, or a royalty, as the leagues are now fondly calling it. Instead, the NFL supports federal sports betting regulations and a requirement for sports betting operations to purchase official league data.

NFL taking a kinder, gentler approach

West Virginia was one of the early states to tackle sports betting regulation after PASPA was ruled unconstitutional. As such, WV was heavily lobbied to include an integrity fee in its regulations.

The PGA Tour, NBA and MLB heavily lobbied WV legislators during the runup to the launch of sports betting in WV. With support from Gov. Jim Justice, it seemed the leagues might have finally found a way in after being shut out elsewhere.

The NFL, however, was miss in action during the early days of lobbying. They have spent a good part of the last year keeping their distance from sports betting headlines. Well, the league finally found its way onto the scene.

On the surface, the requests appear to be reasonable. According to LSR, the NFL is requesting:

  • Assistance with preventing league employees from sports betting in the state
  • Allow NFL consultation on types of bets without decision-making authority
  • Cooperation with NFL investigations of sport betting infractions

There is no indication how receptive the WV House Judiciary is to the requests. Sports betting is on the agenda for March 1.

Gambling takes center stage in the WV Legislature

Legislators are hashing out final sports betting regulations and trying to pass legislation that would legalize WV online casinos before the legislature adjourns March 9.

Earlier this week, another casino bill died in the Senate Finance Committee making everyone a little more nervous about the online casino bill outcome.

HB 2901 would have allowed licensed racetracks to open a satellite casino in the same county. The bill originated to help offset potential income loss for Wheeling Island Casino and Sportsbook. The casino fears road construction and seasonal flooding will impact revenue.

There were also predictions that the satellite casino bill would pass. However, senators were concerned a satellite casino would allow Delaware North, the owner of Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras Casino, to close the casino in favor of the satellite location. Additionally, there was skepticism that a new facility would be complete before the road construction.

West Virginia’s regular legislative session has just over a week left. It’s a nail-biter for those watching the online casino bill with anticipation that WV online casinos will soon join mobile sports betting in the Mountain State.

Even though legislators and experts predict the WV online casino bill is likely to pass, there is a collective holding of the breath until it does.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl has over five years of experience writing about poker culture, the online gambling industry, and more recently, the legalization of sports betting.

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