Last step of approval for this bill
West Virginia is now the fifth state in the US to have made online gambling legal. Governor Jim Justice signed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act on March 27. The five retail gambling license holders can now offer online casinos and online poker to residents of the state.
Both of West Virginia’s legislative chambers passed the bill early in the month. March 27 was the last possible day that Governor Justice could either veto the bills or sign them into law. Some were fearful that Justice would veto this gambling bill at the last minute.
That was what had happened in Michigan when Governor Rick Snyder gave a last-minute veto if the online gambling legalization bill in December. This meant that the bill would have to be taken up for consideration again during the 2019 legislative session.
The other states that have legalized online gambling are Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. However, no online casinos are allowed in Nevada and no online gambling operations have opened in Pennsylvania, even though the legislature approved it 18 months ago.
Details of this bill
The West Virginia Lottery will be in charge of the oversight and regulation of this sector. The lottery has until June 2020 to finalize the rules and regulations for online gambling. Therefore, there is a slim chance of online gambling being available to residents before the end of 2020. It will probably not be until early 2021 that it becomes a reality.
There was a legal online sports betting operation in West Virginia for some time, but it has halted its operations for now. This was due to a dispute between its technology provider a third party.
The minimum age to bet online is 21. The license fee will be $50,000 (£38,500) for online gambling operations. This pales in comparison to the $10m (£7.7m) license fee in Pennsylvania. West Virginia will levy a 14% tax on the gross revenues from online gambling.
This is the latest in a myriad of changes in the gambling space in West Virginia. The state was traditionally conservative in this regard, but now clearly sees a lot of potential in gambling expansion.
It was one of the first states to make sports betting legal after the federal ban was struck down. The state even had its sports betting legalization bill ready to go before the Supreme Court made that decision.
Sportsbooks have to pay a license fee of $100,000 (£76,930) and there is a 10% tax rate on their adjusted gross revenues. Sportsbooks opened in the state in time for the start of the college and pro football seasons.
With online gambling platforms becoming legal, West Virginia is once again ahead of its neighboring states and thus stands to benefit a great deal by using gambling tax revenues for social causes. The industry will also create new jobs in the state.