West Virginia gaming regulators have officially broken up Gov. Jim Justice’s Hail Mary attempt to ensure pro sports leagues get a cut of the state’s sports betting cash.
On Wednesday, the West Virginia Lottery Commission approved its final sports betting regulations, rejecting efforts by Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour to carve out their own slice of the state’s sports betting revenue.
West Virginia, which launched its legal wagering market in August, was viewed as the leagues’ best shot at claiming an ‘integrity fee’ via a percentage of betting handle, the mandated use of league-supplied data (at a price) for determining wagering outcomes, or both.
The leagues’ optimism stemmed from Gov. Justice’s apparent commitment to giving in to the leagues’ shakedown, presumably because Justice owns the state’s Greenbrier Resort, which hosts a PGA Tour event each year.
Justice’s willingness to carry the leagues’ water was rumored to have some role in the abrupt resignation of WV Lottery director Alan Larrick on August 31 and the apparent suspension of WV Lottery general counsel Danielle Boyd shortly thereafter.
State legislators had adamantly opposed codifying either of the leagues’ demands into law. This week, the state’s casino operators threatened to sue if the state revised its emergency sports betting regulations to accommodate the leagues’ demands.
Justice recently appointed John Myers as the WV Lottery’s new director, and WV Metro News reported that Myers made a strong pitch for the leagues’ demands at the Lottery Commission’s meeting on Wednesday, arguing that “integrity is not a four-letter word.”
But the Commission rejected all seven of the leagues’ proposed changes to the emergency betting rules, saying that if the leagues can work out a deal with the state’s gaming operators, so be it, but the Commmission wasn’t about to make such deals mandatory.
West Virginia Gaming & Racing Association president John Cavacini hailed the Commission’s decision, saying the state’s gaming operators remained open to negotiating some arrangement with the leagues but insisted that the state “has no business negotiating a contract between two privately held, for-profit companies.”
DELAWARE NORTH PICKS MIOMNI AS BETTING PARTNER
In other WV betting news, Delaware North, which operates the state’s Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos, has selected Miomni Gaming as its sports betting tech provider. The casinos were scheduled to launch wagering operations last month, but now say the launch will happen sometime later this year.
Delaware North’s VP of marketing for gaming Luisa Woods told Legal Sports Report that the betting partnership with Miomni would extend beyond West Virginia to Delaware North’s properties in five other US states (Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, New York and Ohio) pending the passage of the necessary legislation in each of those states.