Hoping For Growth
The state delegates introduced House Bill 2178, which would give the West Virginia Lottery Commission regulatory powers over licensees for interactive gaming. There has been widespread recognition of the fact that the legalisation of video lottery and table games has resulted in substantial benefits to West Virginia, including the addition of many significant contributions to the agricultural and racing industries.
The bill states that recent rulings and technological developments have brought about an opportunity to legalise interactive poker as a way of enhancing and complementing the benefits of casino gaming and licensed facilities for the communities where they operate. The proposed issuance of licences will be limited to the five casinos that already operate in the state, who will be required to pay a fee of $50,000 and 14% of daily gross revenue.
Strict Licensing Rules
The five casinos are The Hollywood Casino, The Casino Club, The Mardi Gras Casino, The Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and The Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. All of these venues offer sports betting as well. Anyone who attempts to engage in an online casino business without a licence is subject to a minimum fine of $75,000, up to a maximum of $150,000 for a first offence. Any subsequent violations will merit a fine of between $150,000 and $300,000 and a prison sentence of up to one year.
In anticipation of the new legislation being passed, technology providers have begun partnering with gambling providers to enter the West Virginia market. It is hoped that House Bill 2178 will put West Virginia in the company of Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in offering legal online gambling and reaping all the benefits the market has to offer. Pennsylvania operators have yet to actually launch online, but it is expected that they will do so in 2019.