This is a developing story and will be updated.
West Virginia legalized sports betting in 2018, and now it’s looking into another expansion of gaming in 2019: online casino and poker.
Sportsbooks opened in the state’s five casinos in 2018, and the first mobile sports betting app, BetLucky, is also up and running.
Rep. Shawn Fluharty formally introduced a bill to legalize online gaming this week. Fluharty was one of the forces behind pushing for legal sports betting in the state.
The legislation would create a licensing fee of $50,000 and a tax on gross gaming revenue of 14 percent. It would allow any of the state’s five existing gaming facilities to get into online gaming:
The WV Lottery Commission, which oversees sports betting in the state, would be in charge of interactive gaming as well under the bill.
This is the third time in as many years that such a bill has been introduced; last year, legislation had made little progress. In 2018, the bill was introduced late in the session and sports betting was the state’s priority on gaming.
The prospects of passage of online gaming this time around may be different, as the lottery has looked at the vertical as a possibility to generate revenue in the state. And the rollout of online sports wagering could help pave the way for a broader expansion of gaming.
It’s also possible that a different bill backed by the lottery will surface.
If West Virginia were to pass it, it would make West Virginia the fifth state with some form of online poker or casino. The others:
Michigan also attempted to legalize online gaming at the end of 2018. While the legislature passed a bill, outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill.