West Virginia has officially become the latest state to consider iGaming legislation in 2017. The new bill, H 3067, would allow the West Virginia Lottery Commission to license and regulate interactive gaming in the state.
While West Virginia may not have a sizeable market like Pennsylvania, New York or California, the openness of the state regarding gambling may make it a frontrunner to pass legislation in the near future.
Looking Deeper at the Bill
H 3067 was introduced on March 14th by Delegate Shawn Fluharty and is co-sponsored by Delegates Sean Hornbuckle, Mike Pushkin, Joseph Canestraro and Mick Bates.
The bill seeks to legalize interactive games, which the bill defines as "any interactive racetrack, video lottery or interactive table game approved by the commission."
All regulatory authority lies with the West Virginia Lottery Commission. Under the bill only presently licensed race tracks and gambling facilities in the state will be eligible for a license.
Operators will only have to pay $50,000 to gain a license in West Virginia, the cheapest of any state presently considering iGaming legislation.
Finally, the bill sets the tax rate at 14 percent of gross gaming revenue.
Like other states, iGaming will be restricted to intrastate and will be verified by geolocation software. Also, funds must be segregated from operating funds.
Interstate compacts will be permitted by the bill, which is all but a requirement considering the landscape of regulated gambling in the United States.
Don't Underestimate This Bill
Considering that there's been little significant chatter regarding online gambling in West Virginia, one would assume the bill has low odds of passing.
However, West Virginia is a bit of an unknown. First, the past and present lottery directors have favored examining online gambling. Current director John Myers said that the state would have to consider the issue in order to stay competitive.
Next, the state could begin to feel pressure from nearby states. New Jersey and Delaware are already online and New Jersey is experiencing record revenues from online gambling.
If Pennsylvania and New York continue to make progress towards regulation, then West Virginia would be forced to do the same or risk having residents take short trips to neighboring Pennsylvania to play poker online legally.
Don't forget that Pennsylvania is also facing pressure from live casinos in Maryland and even Virginia could be a threat now that a DFS bill has been passed.
Also, so far, there isn't much opposition to iGaming regulation and that does nothing but help the state's chances.
We won't go as far as to predict West Virginia passing this bill in 2017 but we would not be shocked for them to do so within the next 24 months.