West Virginia Embraces Sports Betting Prior to Supreme Court’s Decision

The state of West Virginia has embraced online sports betting before the Supreme Court has reached a decision on the case New Jersey has started against the US leagues in an attempt to repeal PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Over this past weekend, West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice allowed the new piece of legislation to pass into law without actually leaving his signature on the bill.

The Governor announced in a statement that once the Supreme Court comes to a decision on the case, he will turn to the West Virginia’s legislators with a request to consider the potential benefits of partnering with the sports leagues that insisted on introducing amendments to the bill. Governor Justice also expressed his hopes to establish a fruitful partnership with US leagues franchises and a healthy relationship with the leagues themselves.

The new bill is called the West Virginia Sports Lottery Wagering Act (S 415) and enables the state to authorize and regulate the provision of sports betting activities within its borders. West Virginia’s Governor decided not to veto the new legislation despite the insistence of MLB’s Commissioner Robert Manfred. Both the MLB and the NBA have been lobbying for another version of the bill which included a tax called “integrity fee” the leagues want to collect is the Supreme Court overrules PASPA. The fee the leagues insist on stands at 1% and represents a cut from all sports bets made on their sporting events.

The bill was introduced in the Senate less than six weeks ago and was approved by the House of Delegates with a margin of 77-22. The West Virginia Senate agreed on amendments proposed by the House of Delegates this Saturday which sends S 415 directly to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

The state of West Virginia first introduced a piece of legislation aiming at authorizing the provision of sports betting back in March 2017 but eventually it was S 415 that got approved by the state’s legislators.

Key Points of the Sports Lottery Wagering Act

The passing of S 145 makes West Virginia one of the few states to authorize the provision of sports betting services on their territory. The bill was introduced a few weeks ago and was approved by the Senate on February 20, 2018. Sports betting is also allowed within the borders of Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon.

A number of other states, New York included, are currently pushing for the introduction of their own sports betting bills. What sets West Virginia apart from other states, however, is the rather quick passing of its sports betting legislation.

The bill aims at laying out a framework that would allow for regulations of the sports betting industry in West Virginia which is to be overseen by the state’s Lottery Commission. S 415 will enable five gambling venues in the state to apply for and receive licenses for the legal provision of sports betting services.

The five gambling establishments that would reportedly receive licenses are The Casino Club, Hollywood Casino, Mardi Gras Casino, Mountaineer Casino, and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. Each venue must pay $100,000 for a sports betting license, which expires after a period of five years but can be renewed once the licensing fee is paid again.

The revenue the establishments would generate from sports bets would be subjected to a 10% tax rate. This will enable punters from the state who are of legal gambling age (21 years old or above) to place bets both on professional and collegiate events, with the option to bet online or via mobile devices. The licensees are required to oversee their services for any suspicious betting activities.

Unlike some of the other states that are currently pushing for the authorization of sports betting services, West Virginia did not wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on the New Jersey case. If New Jersey wins the case, PASPA will be overruled to allow each state to decide on and pass its own sports betting legislation. Sports betting is presently subjected to a federal ban and is prohibited across the United States, with the exception of the above-mentioned states.