Online gambling in West Virginia is one step closer to becoming a reality after a favorable 26-7 vote officially allowed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (H 2934) to move forward. The bill went back to the House of Delegates for concurrence and received the final approval on Saturday.
It all comes down to one final signature from Republican Gov. Jim Justice. The governor has 15 days to sign or veto the bill that will legalize online casinos in the Mountain State.
A Closer Look at the Online Gambling Bill
According to the bill, online gambling will be provided exclusively by the existing land-based casinos in West Virginia:
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Wheeling Island Hotel
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
Online Gambling Application Fees and Taxes
The license is set to cost $250,000 per applicant and can be extended over a five year period for an additional $100,000. The same charge is imposed on platform and service management licenses, while suppliers will be charged $10,000 per license.
In terms of taxes, the State of West Virginia is set to collect 15% of the online gambling profit. According to projections for the first year, the state budget is set to collect $3.9 million in revenue at this rate.
What’s In It for West Virginia?
The up-and-coming industry is not projected to bring in any major boosts in the state budget. After all, West Virginia has a population of 1.8 million and ranks 49th in terms of disposable income. However, the state borders Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, all of which have greater economic potential.
Based on this, prospective online casino operators are intending to target their local players, as well as those outside the state borders. The fact that the new online gambling rewards will be tied to land-based reward programs is an added attraction for the new player pool.
Existing Online Gambling Practices in West Virginia
According to the Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, online casino operators may be allowed to enter partnerships. As a result, players from West Virginia would be able to enjoy poker play along with the online casino gameplay offering.
The existing sports betting bill limits licensees to up to three partnering brands. Online gambling platforms will most likely see the same limits apply to them. Considering the fact that none of the existing sportsbooks have reached their limit, predictions suggest that they could be inclined to offer online gambling as well.
Sports Betting Partnerships
As things stand, these are the sports betting partnerships made so far:
|The Casino Club at The Greenbrier||FanDuel Sportsbook|
|Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort||William Hill US|
|Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races||William Hill US and DraftKings Sportsbook|
|Wheeling Island Hotel||Miomni|
|Mardi Gras Casino & Resort||Miomni|
For now, there are no limits on the number of partnerships for online gambling operators. However, if the law ultimately permits multiple partnerships, West Virginia players could expect to get several casino and poker-focused platforms.
What Does It All Mean for US Online Gambling?
West Virginia is ultimately set to become the fifth state to legalize online gambling practices. The timing does complicate things a bit, as a recent announcement by the DOJ to re-interpreted the Wire Act has caused delays in the online gambling bill process.
With things moving forward to date, this US industry is bound to get a small but valuable contribution, especially if players in the Mountain State enter the interstate shared poker action that players from Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware enjoy so far. Even with a yet uncertain outcome, this legislation is an overall step towards progress for US online gambling.