West Virginia to consider new igaming bill

12 February 2019

A group of West Virginia lawmakers have introduced a new bill in the latest effort to legalise online gambling activities in the US state.

The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, or H 2934, would enable the state’s four racetrack casinos - Hollywood Casino, Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino and Delaware North’s properties in Nitro and Wheeling - as well as the Greenbrier resort to offer legal igaming services.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission would be responsible for regulating the market and administering licences under the proposed framework. Slots and table games, as well as other services, would be permitted under the bill.

Venues seeking to operate online gaming services would need to secure a licence for a fee of $250,000 (£194,500/€221,500). These licences would run for five years, after which the holder would need to pay a renewal fee of $100,000.

Licence-holders would face a tax rate of 10% of their adjusted gross interactive wagering receipts. Tax levied and collected would be due and payable to the Commission in weekly instalments.

Aside from operator licences, the Commission would also be permitted to award a number of other licences, thus opening up the market to wider range of brands.

These would include management service provider licences, whereby licence-holders may work with a separate entity to offer online gaming. These licences would cost $100,000 and only run for one year, with an annual renewal fee of $100,000.

The Commission may also award supplier licences, under which providers would be able to sell or lease interactive wagering equipment, systems, or other gaming items necessary to conduct interactive wagering. These one-year licences would cost $10,000, with an annual renewal fee of $10,000.

In addition, all persons employed to be engaged directly with igaming activities would require an occupational licence for $100. The licences would include an annual renewal fee of $100, although the bill would allow the person’s employer to pay these fees on behalf of their staff.

The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for its first consideration. 

The latest bill comes after Representatives Shawn Fluharty and Joe Canestraro last month also introduced House Bill 2178, seeking to amend the 1931 Code of West Virginia to legalise igaming for players aged 21 and above.

Much of the language in the new West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act is similar to that of the state’s recently enacted sports betting laws. Since last August, consumers have been able to place bets in-person, and this was extended in December to allow for online wagering.

Hollywood Casino was the first venue to launch in-person sports betting, via a partnership with William Hill. Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino, Delaware North’s two sites and the Greenbrier resort have since followed suit.

Image: Joel Kramer