West Virginia Online Casinos Imminent As Bill Goes To Governor Justice
West Virginia politicians have passed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wager Act. Online casino and online poker coming soon.
West Virginia senators spent Friday afternoon productively, passing an online casino bill by 26 votes to 7. The bill was passed by the House in February so now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.
The Republican Governor Jim Justice let the sports betting bill become law without his signature, and is expected to do the same with this bill.
When the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wager Act does make it into law, West Virginia will join New Jersey and Nevada as only the third state with both legal sports betting and legal online casino.
Online poker playing West Virginians will for once not be left out. Online poker is included.
Taxes and fees are pitched for success
The license fees for the new online gambling have been set at an achievable $250,000 and gaming taxes at 15%. There was an amendment that tried to lift these to 35% but fortunately common sense prevailed.
At rates over 20%, gambling taxes begin to reduce the number of players attracted from the black market. They also reduce the total tax take for the state, so setting rates outside the sweet spot, as has happened in Pennsylvania, isn’t a logical move.
Five West Virginia casinos offer sports betting
Legal sports betting went live at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town at the end of August 2018. The Hollywood had the market to itself for a few months until the Mountaineer Casino in New Cumberland launched on November 21.
Old and new came together when the Greenbriar resort brought its FanDuel provided sportsbook to the market. The Greenbriar boasts that it has been serving customers since 1778. The present building was built in 1913 and 26 US Presidents have stayed at the hotel.
In December it was the turn of the Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island. Both are owned by Delaware North, and they went a step further than their peers by being first to market with an online sports betting app using the BetLucky brand.
So far this is the only online sports betting launch in West Virginia, but the other casinos should have their own apps ready soon.
Delaware North has temporarily paused sports betting after a dispute with a third party supplier. The sportsbook at the two casinos and the online book stopped taking bets on March 7. Delaware North says that all outstanding bets are being honored, and the service will be restored as soon as possible.
All five of the sports betting casinos are expected to jump at the chance to offer online casino under the new law.
Earliest online casino launch date is Fall 2019
It takes 90 days for the bill to become effective, and there will be some delay while the lottery fulfils its obligations. The bill demands that the West Virginia Lottery examine regulations in other states where online casino is legal, and produce “a similar regulatory framework.”
The earliest practical launch is likely to be towards the end of this year. The Hollywood Casino was first to market with sports betting, and it could well do the same with online casino.
The Hollywood is owned by Penn National which is launching online casino in Pennsylvania in the Summer. Porting across to meet West Virginia’s regulations should not take too long and the prior experience should make for a trouble free launch.
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