Online gambling law close in West Virginia

Barring a last-minute veto, legalized online gambling should be coming to West Virginia any day now.

House Bill 2934, which would legalize all forms of online gambling in the state passed through the West Virginia Senate earlier this week by a vote of 26-7. The bill saw slight minor changes in the Senate which means it must pass through the House of Assembly again before heading to the Governor for final approval and signature.

The bill passed through the House by a vote of 72-22 last month, so another vote is not expected to be an issue.

Will West Virginia online gambling finally pass?

Once the bill passes through the House again the final step before becoming law is the signature of Governor Jim Justice. This may seem like a formality after the bill easily got through the House and Senate but tell that to Michigan.

The same thing happened to an online gambling bill in Michigan before the Governor vetoed and killed it.

It would be truly shocking if the Michigan scenario repeated itself in West Virginia. Last year West Virginia legalized sports betting, both online and in-person, with no resistance from Justice.

In fact, Justice did not sign that bill and simply let it pass due to a potential conflict of interest which could be repeated with the new bill. Justice is the owner of the Greenbrier Luxury Hotel which includes a casino, making it eligible to apply for an online gambling license.

Along with the Casino Club at the Greenbrier, the other four casinos in West Virginia that would be eligible to apply for a license include the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort and the Wheeling Island Hotel.

A five-year license will cost $250,000 with a renewal fee of $100,000. All online gambling revenue will be taxed at 15 per cent.

Under the terms of the new law there is no bad actor clause, meaning operators like PokerStars will not be barred from operating in the state. PokerStars is expected to be one of the operators that sets up sites in West Virginia, as they have a partnership deal with Eldorado Resorts and their casinos in 11 states.

One of of those casinos is the Mountaineer Casino.

Once the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act becomes law, West Virginia will be the fifth state that has legalized online gambling, joining Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.