West Virginia Still Hoping to Roll Out Sports Betting by Football Season
In March, West Virginia took a proactive approach to legalizing sports betting pending the federal outcome with the United States Supreme Court. Once SCOTUS overturned PASPA on May 14th, it cleared the path for West Virginia to legally move forward with their sports betting framework. After the SCOTUS ruling, various West Virginia lawmakers began speculating as to when the state will start legally taking sports bets. At first, some speculated it could be within 30 days of the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, after further review, it was determined that the end of the summer was a more realistic timeframe for the state to legalize sports betting.
As we check in with West Virginia a month after SCOTUS’ ruling, the state is still hoping to begin their sports betting platform before the 2018 football season. The West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association (WVGRA) and the West Virginia Lottery both hope that they can unveil their entire framework at the same time and not one phase ahead of another. For example, the primary objective is to get the physical locations and online betting up and running by football season. However, there are some concerns that the mobile and online side of things may take a little longer, which could delay the unveiling of the entire sports betting framework.
John Cavicini, president of the WVGRA, made the following comments about the potential hindrances to the state being fully up and running by football season, according to WVMetroNews.com:
“I think it’s questionable, and the reason I say that is the mobile part of this is a significant part of the business on sports betting. I was in a meeting this week, and it is entirely a different world as it relates to mobile apps, having those at the track, people calling in and opening accounts.
If one of those platforms or one of those forms is ahead of the other, I would not be surprised to see, hypothetically, that the bricks and mortar and the retail side gets up first. That is not what the Lottery wants and it’s basically not what we want.”
How West Virginia Got Here
In the spring of 2017, the first sports betting bill was reviewed by state legislation. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet their approval. Between the rejection of that bill and the beginning of 2018, two additional bills had surfaced. Ultimately, it was the S 415 bill that gained traction due to its support from the state’s Lottery Commission, which paid for extensive research to be done on sports betting. Once the bill was presented early this year, it passed within 6 weeks and West Virginia became the first state to legalize sports betting in 2018, pending the May 14th federal case.
A Look at West Virginia’s S 415 Bill
As mentioned, bill S 415 was backed by the Lottery Commission with a great deal of research to support their claims. After the March 9th approval, the bill is now referred to as the WV Sports Lottery Wagering Act. Some of the key points in this act includes:
- Sports bets can be placed on professional and collegiate athletic events.
- All bettors have to be at least 21 years old.
- Allows for online and mobile sports betting.
- There will be a 10% tax on gross betting revenue.
- All of the state’s casinos will need a license to offer sports betting.
- Licensing fees will cost $100,000.
West Virginia’s Stance on “Integrity Fees”
West Virginia also joined other states like New Jersey in not giving into the demands of pro sports leagues and their desire for an integrity fee. State lawmakers basically said that since there’s no professional sports teams within the state, then there’s no need to pay them an integrity fee. And, that the leagues would basically be taking money away from the state and employers that reside in WV.
However, unlike New Jersey, state lawmakers also passed the buck onto casinos to decide if they want to enter into agreements with leagues like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. State legislature felt that since both sides are private entities, then they should be able to determine their own course of action with each other.
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