West Virginia recently introduced House Bill 3067 – the first bill to legalise and regulate online gambling in the state.
Delegate Shawn Fluharty, Sean Hornbuckle, Mike Pushkin, Joseph Canestraro and Mike Bates all sponsored the bill, which is intended to “authorise Internet gaming managed and licensed through existing authorised gaming facilities in West Virginia”, all of which would fall under the responsibilities of the West Virginia Lottery. Commission.
Licensed gaming facilities and race tracks would be able to apply for an internet gambling license for a fee of $50,000, along with a tax rate at 14% of gross gaming revenue.
Regulations for operators who wish to move to online gambling detailed in the bill include: the operator must verify that the participants are 21; they must ensure that participants are in the state or a permissible jurisdiction; and they must make sure that sufficient gaming protocols are in place to minimise problem gambling and keep the games fair and honest.
Operators would also be expected to set up policies to identify and counter cheating. Operators would also have to keep their funds distinct, and not combine them with player funds.
The bill allows gaming between states that are authorised for online gaming and prohibits strong offences for unlawful gaming; For example, misdemeanours would warrant a $75-150,000 fines and a year in prison as the baseline to taxes to the operators, and felony charges would warrant $150-300,000 fines and one to three years in prison.
In 2014, John Musgrave, the lottery director, had then met with casino executives to discuss the possibility of legalising iGaming to help compete against nearby states.
“We’re still exploring [online gaming] because we feel that’s the way the industry’s moving, so we want to plan for it,” said Musgrave to the Charleston Daily Mail. “We have not yet made any decision for how we’re going to implement it, but we are looking at it, studying it and seeing how our casinos in our jurisdiction can move in that direction.”
Since then, the state still has seen revenues decline by as much as 10.9% at its brick-and-mortar venues. In response to falling revenues, West Virginia could consider legalising online gaming to offset these losses.
Morgan Stanley reported that West Virginia would be one of 20 states to legalise and regulate online poker, but it is likely that this will not become a reality until 2020.
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