West Virginia legislators introduced more than 300 bills on the first day of the legislative session. One of those bills brings online gaming back to the floor for debate.
Rep. Shawn Fluharty, one of the proponents of West Virginia sports betting, introduced House Bill 2178, a bill legalizing interactive gaming, including casino games and online poker.
If the bill passes, online gaming could be available at all five West Virginia casinos:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
West Virginia interactive gaming bill details
The West Virginia Lottery Commission will oversee online gaming regulations, as it does sports betting. Licenses will only be available to West Virginia casinos and cost $50,000. Operators will be responsible for paying 14 percent tax on all online gaming revenue.
The bill includes language for regulating table games, including poker. At a time when online poker is taking a back seat to all the sports betting chatter, poker players are likely encouraged to see the interest.
What’s more, the bill addresses the potential for shared liquidity explicitly once the interactive gaming market is “fully developed.”
Smaller player pools resulting in location-dependent player pools have had an impact on online poker’s growth. More language in bills discussing shared liquidity might just be the spark the poker industry needs.
West Virginia sports betting may help the cause
West Virginia online gambling actually stands a better chance of passage than in years past, thanks to the success of video lottery and legalized sports betting.
From the bill:
“[The] legalization of video lottery and table games in West Virginia has delivered substantial benefits to the state, including the creation of thousands of significant contributions racing and agricultural industries.”
It is hard to overlook the state’s revenue potential once online gaming launches. One only has to look at WV sports betting to understand the interest and the appeal.
West Virginia sports betting accepted $13.3 million in wagers in November. The ten percent tax on sports betting brought in $133,351 for the state. What’s more impressive though, is the growth from October when taxes brought in $63,020.
Furthermore, sports betting is just getting started in the Mountain State. Online sports betting only launched in December when BetLucky.com went live. Moreover, DraftKings WV Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are likely to launch their mobile sports betting apps soon.
Remember the industry is just five months old. Money as a motivator certainly won’t hurt the efforts to legalize online gaming.
Currently, only three other states have legal online casino gambling:
- New Jersey
Pennsylvania is scheduled to come online in early 2019. Ultimately, if the bill passes, West Virginia would have an opportunity to be a leader in the space as one of the first few states to legalize online casino gaming.
We should know more about the chances of West Virginia online gaming bill by the spring. The current West Virginia legislative session adjourns on March 9.