Legislation for WV online poker, casino didn't go far in 2017

West Virginia Takes Another Crack At Legalizing Online Gambling

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A group of five Democrat state lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that would legalize online gambling in West Virginia.

The bill, H 3067, was first introduced in March of last year.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Delegate Shawn Fluharty.

The legislation is co-sponsored by these delegates:

  • Sean Hornbuckle
  • Mike Pushkin
  • Joseph Canestraro
  • Mick Bates

There is also a bill for a second straight year that would legalize sports betting.

What the WV bill says

The bill would authorize licensed casinos in the state of West Virginia to offer online gambling.

Online gambling would be regulated by the West Virginia Lottery Commission. The Commission already oversees casino gaming in the state.

Among the baseline regulations, the Commission would:

  • Ensure “to a reasonable degree of certainty, that authorized participants are not less than twenty-one years of age.”
  • Verify players are “physically located within this state or such other jurisdiction that is permissible under this chapter.”

The legislation authorizes the Lottery Commission to enter into interstate online gambling compacts with other states.

Licensing and taxation for online gambling

Compared to the online gambling bill passed by Pennsylvania last year, the West Virginia bill has a low barrier for entry for the state’s casinos.

The licensing fee in West Virginia is set at $50,000, and the tax rate is a modest 14 percent of gross gaming revenue across the board.

In Pennsylvania, existing casinos need to cough up $10 million for a comprehensive online gambling license (slots, table games and poker), and are subject to a bifurcated taxation scheme that is set at 54 percent for slots and 16 percent for table games and poker.

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Has anything changed since last year in WV?

Less than two weeks after the bill was introduced in 2017, it had already been declared dead:

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

Even though Armstead is still the speaker, there are reasons for optimism this year.

  • The bill was introduced late in the session in 2017, on March 15. The West Virginia legislative session ended on April 8 last year. That left little time for the bill’s advocates to whip support. This time around, the legislature will have several months to consider the legislation.
  • West Virginia’s northern neighbor, Pennsylvania, passed online gambling legislation in October. That could cause West Virginia casinos to support the legislation, considering there are three Pennsylvania casinos near the West Virginia border.
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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