West Virginia House Speaker Does Not Support iGaming Bill

West Virginia Online Gambling Effort For 2017 Might Be Over Before It Really Started

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West Virginia became the most recent state to enter the fray when it comes to legalizing online gambling.

But a new report and the legislative calendar makes this year unlikely to see change in the state on the iGaming front.

The news on WV online gambling

A bill regarding online gambling popped up earlier this month, with little warning. Given that, 2017 already seemed like an optimistic timeline for WV to pass a bill regarding online gambling.

That was confirmed in a report from GamblingCompliance (paywall). From the GC report:

“The speaker does not support the bill,” Jared Hunt, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Tim Armstead, told GamblingCompliance in an email.

So, that appears to be that for online gambling in WV this year.

Time is also short for WV bills

If that weren’t bad enough for the prospects of iGaming, the legislative calendar is also working against it.

The legislature wraps up its session on April 8. Bills are due out of committee on Sunday. Additionally, a bill would have to move from the House to the Senate on March 29. The iGaming bill has only been referred to its initial committee, so far, and nothing else.

Marshaling support for an iGaming bill in such a short timeframe would be difficult under circumstances, much less without the support of the House’s top lawmaker.

That doesn’t mean iGaming in WV is a lost cause

The introduction of new legislation in any state is always a positive development. A bill of this type making it to the finish line on the first attempt was likely never in the cards.

A variety of states — notably Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan — have traveled an arc from first introduction of legislation in past years to more serious consideration this year.

West Virginia could join that trend, certainly, and the issue isn’t simply dead in the legislature.

As regional competition continues for West Virginia’s land-based casinos, they are likely to search for ways to stay competitive. If Pennsylvania and other states in the region move toward legalizing online gambling — or considering it more seriously — West Virginia is likely to continue the conversation.

But for now, given something drastic, the hopes for legal online poker and gambling appear to be on hold in West Virginia.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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