The West Virginia Lottery plans to introduce online gambling in the state to help address the increased competition coming from neighboring states. Lottery Director John Musgrave told members of the state Lottery Commission that discussions with state casinos execs have been ongoing on the possibility of legalizing online gambling.
“We’re still exploring (online gaming) because we feel that’s the way the industry’s moving, so we want to plan for it,” Musgrave told reporters after the meeting earlier this week.
“We have not yet made any decision for how we’re going to implement it, but we are looking at it, studying it and seeing how our casinos in our jurisdiction can move in that direction.”
The legalization of online gambling in West Virginia could boost the state’s gambling revenue and offset the continued decline of lottery revenue from the state’s four racetrack casinos. Musgrave pointed to the new casinos in Maryland and even some in Ohio as serious competition to the state’s racetrack casinos.
A new smoking ban implemented in two of the state’s racetrack casinos could also lead to declining revenues. Executives at Mountaineer Casino estimate that the recent indoor smoking ban implemented in its county could lead to a 20 percent decline in revenue. The same with the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town and its county’s similar ban on indoor smoking.
Legalizing online gaming in West Virginia would entail amendments to the state’s existing gaming law. But Musgrave is pitching the idea of making Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto online games available through a smartphone app. This allows a customer to eschew going to lottery vendors and just buy their tickets online and collect their prizes through their mobile phones.
“Basically, we think we could implement that now,” Musgrave said.
BAHAMAS POL WANTS LOCAL INVOLVEMENT IN ONLINE GAMBLING
Over in the Bahamas, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth debate among lawmakers about the country’s proposed Gambling Bill. Recently, Bahamas MP Leslie Miller got in on the action, objecting to a provision in the bill that would prohibit the local population from taking part in any online gambling activity. Miller believes that this “contentious” provision discriminates against the local population and favors foreigners.
“We will not sit back and allow Bahamians who have gone out there and built an industry to be disadvantaged; that’s my greatest concern,” Miller told the Tribune Staff.
“It will be very contentious and I will speak out hard if Bahamians are disadvantaged in favor of foreigners.”
Miller’s objections are the latest in a long line of roadblocks the bill has experienced since it was introduced last year. The bill was originally tabled last October but debate never materialized after it received critical reviews from all corners of the Bahamas’ political spectrum, including former Gaming Board Chairman Dr. Andre Rollins. A revised version of the bill also suffered delays because the government wanted to be sure that local banks would support new regulations. That issue has since been resolved after the Financial Action Tax Force gave its thumbs-up on the legislation while also giving a few recommendations that the government has taken into consideration.