Originally introduced by West Virginia Rep. Clay Riley, HB 3232 has officially failed after it was unable to pass the Senate. The bill intended to hold handicappers and sports betting touts accountable in an effort to protect consumers.
There appeared to be a lack of clarity behind the intent of the bill, slowing its journey to passage. It eventually died in the last West Virginia legislative session, which ended March 11.
Maryland bill is similar to HB 3232
Both in-person and online West Virgina sports betting have been legal in the Mountain State since 2018. There are eight online sportsbooks currently available to West Virginia bettors.
Riley said his defeated bill’s aim was to protect the sports betting industry. He said:
“The people who are really good actors and doing good things and handicapping really well, they should be rewarded. The people who are skewing results and not being completely honest, that’s not good for the industry.”
There’s now hope that Maryland could pass a similar bill. If so, it might provide a path for West Virginia to follow in the next legislative session.
Sen. Craig Zucker is sponsoring the Maryland bill, SB 261. It is currently sitting in the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Zucker told the committee the intent of the bill:
“Really, this is a consumer-protection bill.”
The proposed legislation puts the power and unbiased process into the hands of the Maryland Lottery by having it select evaluators for independent audits. The Lottery would look into sports betting handicappers and also touts to ensure they are being honest about their credentials and success rates. Touts act on the belief that if betting newcomers win a few bets, they’ll continue to bet at the sportsbook and not go elsewhere.
The goal is to eliminate bad actors
Content creators, affiliates, handicappers, and touts have the common goal of bringing in as many customers as they can to sportsbooks. They represent mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook.
The goal of HB 3232 was to ensure that people who are heavily incentivized to promote these sportsbooks and also encourage wagering are acting in good faith. When a tout claims their picks win 70% of the time, an audit would confirm or reject that claim.
If a handicapper is honest about their percentages, they could continue to offer their services in the state.