A bill seeking to legalize sports wagering in West Virginia has taken a a step closer to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk.
Barely a week after the state Senate voted in favor of its betting bill, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that SB 415 has won the approval of the House Finance Committee. The bill will now head to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber.
In recap, SB 415 would give the West Virginia Lottery Commission the authority to regulate sports betting in the state, including the authorization of online and mobile betting. The legislation required that players be older than 20.
The bill would permit the state’s five gaming facilities to offer sports betting, provided they obtain a five-year, sports betting operator license at a cost of up to $100,000 and pay 10 percent tax on their gross betting revenue.
Implementation of the bill will depend on whether the U.S. Supreme Court lifts the existing federal ban on sports betting.
On Tuesday, the House committee accepted the entirety of the Senate’s sports betting bill, although there had been attempts to include the prohibition of wagering on smartphone apps, and to bar wagering on the personal performances of collegiate athletes.
Paul Barrett, chief accountant for the Lottery Commission, made his sales pitch to legislators in favor of the bill, saying that the state’s five casinos will benefit from the lucrative sports betting business.
He pointed out that legalizing sports betting in the state will slash illegal sports wagering while increasing the state’s revenue stream.
Citing a study it commissioned, the state regulator estimates that sports betting will eventually gross between $182 million and $315 million a year. During the first year of sports betting, the Lottery Commission believes that profits will be around $5 million.
If things go well in the House Chamber, SB 415 will be sent back to the Senate for concurrence before the governor signs the bill into law.