Nicholle Burke – June 4, 2018
In March 2018, West Virginia became one of a handful of states that passed preemptive legislation that would legalize sports betting in the state. This piece of legislature, titled HB 415, became law on March 9th, officially becoming the West Virginia Sports Lottery Wagering Act.
This law, like the handful of others passed by states like New York and Delaware, included verbiage that kept it dormant until the Supreme Court made a decision regarding the federal law, PASPA. When SCOTUS overturned the legislature in May of 2018, West Virginia was given the green light to enact sports betting.
West Virginia sports betting will now be available at five locations within the state. These include the Greenbriar, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, and the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort.
Before they can begin opening their sportsbooks, each gaming facility will have to pay $100,000 registration and licensing fee, and will conduct sports betting under the supervision of the West Virginia Lottery Commission. Currently, betting on football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, and auto racing will be available at these West Virginia sportsbooks. Along with professional lines, sports betting venues in West Virginia will also provide wagering opportunities on NCAA events as well.
In order to bet on sports in West Virginia, you must be 21 years of age or older. You will also have to be present at one of the five physical gaming venues in the state. Currently, there are talks of an online and mobile application that would extend from these gaming facilities. According to verbiage in the West Virginia Sports Lottery Wagering ACT, mobile betting within the state is permissible, although there has yet to be anything of that nature put into effect.
Until mobile apps are developed and put into use, you will have to physically be present at the racetracks and casino in order to place your bets. We all know how long it can take for Government and big businesses to get their acts together, so instead of waiting for state-based mobile apps that may never actually get developed, you can always place your bets at online, offshore sportsbooks for safe, easy, legal sports betting in West Virginia.
You may be wondering what the holdup is when it comes to sportsbooks opening in West Virginia. Part of the wait is just logistics – casinos waiting to get the appropriate gaming equipment and training their staff to offer a wide array of single-game wagering options takes time. Another part of the somewhat standstill in the state, though, comes from Governor himself. Despite allowing HB 415 to pass into law, he seems determined to send it back to the legislature in order to add a referendum that would give a cut of the casinos’ – and thus the state’s – profits away.
This urge stems from nation-wide calls and lobbying efforts made by the Commissioners of the MLB and NBA, who both supported legal sports betting. The caveat to that support is that they wanted to their leagues to be given compensation. League Commissioners are calling this an “integrity fee”, which would entitle them to 1% of a state’s sports betting profits.
While Justice is attempting to get his state to partner with the leagues in order to make the transition to legal sports betting in West Virginia smoother, experts agree that it isn’t likely for the Senate to vote for such an amendment.
Unfortunately, the more time spent on this small issue, the longer it takes for the casinos to open their sportsbooks. While sports betting in West Virginia does not have an official start date on the books yet, expect it to be sooner rather than later. Proponents of sports wagering in West Virginia are eager to start collecting on the projected multi-million dollar profits legal sportsbooks are projected to make.
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