Soon after making sports betting legal, the state of West Virginia could be on the way to legalizing online gambling, as well.
Following the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the New Jersey sports betting case in May 2018, West Virginia joined the states which took advantage of the expansion and gave the green light to the new form of gambling. Now, the expansion could continue, as Representative Shawn Fluharty formally introduced a bill called HB 2178, which is set to make online gambling (both Internet-based casino and poker operations involved) in the state.
This is the third consecutive year in which West Virginia will consider the addition of online gambling to its already existing market. So far, similar pieces of legislation were not able to move forward, but now, with sports betting already legalized, the proponents of the new form of gambling believe that changes for online gaming to be approved are higher.
Rep. Fluharty was the major sponsor of the previous online gambling bill, which failed in 2018, and is now part of the driving force which backs the piece of legislation along with Representative Joe Canestraro.
Online Casino and Poker Operations to Be Legalized by HB 2178
The proposed online gambling bill would allow any of the state’s currently existing retail casinos to operate an online gaming site. For the time being, there are five brick-and-mortar gambling facilities in West Virginia: Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, Wheeling Island Hotel and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort.
The licensing fee that any of these venues will be required to pay in order to be permitted to offer online gambling, would amount to $50,000, with the gross gaming revenues tax set at 14%. Now, the bill must be referred to a committee which is to take the proposed piece of legislation into consideration and make a report to the House and the Senate members. Then, amendments and a second reading will follow, before the bill finally reaches the members of the local legislature for debate.
If the first chamber approves it, the bill will then move on to the second chamber, when the process of assessment, amendment and reading is repeated once again. Only when the second chamber gives its approval to the measure, the bill will be sent to Governor Jim Justice’s desk to be signed into law.
If local legislators give the nod to the latest online gambling legislation attempt, the new addition to the state’s gambling market will be regulated by the West Virginia Lottery Commission – the group which currently oversees sports betting.
In case that West Virginia passed the iGaming gambling bill, it would become the fifth US state to say “yes” to online casino/poker services. Online gambling services have been available in the states of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey since 2013, with Nevada currently offering online poker games only, while the two other states offer both online casino and poker operations.