Lawmakers of the West Virginia legislature are trying to legalize online gambling in the state, after failing to do so in previous years.
One difference this time is that the proposed measure comes on the heels of legalized sports betting, which has added to state revenues since last August.
Delegates Shawn Fluharty and Joe Canestraro introduced House Bill 2178, that would give the state’s Lottery Commission regulatory powers over interactive gaming licensees.
“[L]egalization of video lottery and table games in West Virginia has delivered substantial benefits to the state, including the creation of thousands of significant contributions to racing and agricultural industries,” the bill reads.
It also states that developments in technology and recent rulings “have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming and licensed facilities to or for the benefit of the communities in which they operate.”
The issuance of licenses will be limited to the five casinos already operating in the state, who will be required to pay a $50,000 fee, as well as 14% of daily gross revenue to be paid weekly. These five casinos—the Casino Club at The Greenbrier, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack—all offer sports betting as well.
Those who engage in an online gambling business without a license are subject to a fine of at least $75,000 up to $150,000 for the first offense. Subsequent violations merit a fine of $150,000 to $300,000 and or up to one-year imprisonment.
Anticipating passage of the online gambling legislation, technology provider GAN has partnered with Paddy Power Betfair’s FanDuel to enter the West Virginia market. FanDuel has already partnered with one potential online gambling licensee, The Greenbrier’s Casino Club, for sports betting in the state.
Fluharty, Canestraro, and House Bill 2178’s other proponents hope to put West Virginia in the company of Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where online gambling is legal. Pennsylvania operators have yet to launch online, but are expected to do so within the year.