HB 2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wager Act, has the power to put West Virginia at the forefront of the national online gambling scene. Only two states have legalized online sports betting and online casino gambling:
- New Jersey
On Tuesday, West Virginia online casinos are one step closer to becoming a reality. The bill moved out of the WV Senate Judiciary Committee during its afternoon session. Immediately following, Sen. Craig Blair, chairman of the Finance Committee waived the second reference which sends the bill straight to the floor.
The first reading of the bill is likely to happen Wednesday with the third reading and floor vote is projected for Friday. If it passes the Senate, which sources say is expected, it will head back to the House for concurrence on the minor amendments to the bill.
Should the stars align and the online casino bill passes, WV would be the third state in the country to offer both online casino gambling and online sports betting.
Looking at the WV online casino bill
The online casino bill limits the number of licenses to five. One for each of the five West Virginia casinos:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
Each license will cost $250,000 and be renewable every five years. Online casinos will pay a 15 percent privilege tax to the state, calculated weekly.
Just like WV sports betting, online casinos will be licensed and regulated through the WV Lottery Commission.
Online casino games include any game on a casino floor and are likely to include:
- Video poker
- Online poker
Offering favorite casino games online will likely benefit sports betting revenues, as well. Once a player is online, he or she will be more likely to try new games.
Del. Jason Barrett is the lead sponsor of a bipartisan effort to pass the legislation. He spoke about the optimism he and others share with the expansion of online gaming.
“With our iGaming legislation, we seek once again to lead the charge by permitting traditional land-based casino gaming to be conducted via electronic devices. If passed, iGaming has the potential to bring millions of dollars in revenue to our state.”
WV on the verge of taking a seat at the grownup’s table
If the bill passes, West Virginia will be a state to watch as it launches its second online gambling vertical in two years. In fact, it may be the second state to go live with both online casino gambling and sports betting.
Pennsylvania seems to be taking its time during its gambling expansion process.
Having another form of legalized gambling available will benefit the state through increased tax revenues and may even attract more visitors to cross state lines and visit the Mountain State.
And let’s not forget the fact that it is likely to provide a good source of local entertainment for its residents.