It was towards the end of February that we reported on West Virginia clearing its first hurdle on its way towards the legalisation of online poker options. The new bill, known as House Bill 2934, was introduced and voted on by Delegates, with a favourable outcome taking place.
However, after this, there were still two major hurdles in place for the bill to get through before online gambling becomes fully legal within West Virginia. The first of those two steps was for the bill to get through the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, which it did last Friday. With votes of 26-7 in its favour, the bill now has just a single final obstacle to bypass before its introduction to official law.
That final obstacle is the Governor Justice, with just a single signature from him ensuring that the bill passes through. Should this take place, West Virginia would become just the fifth of the United States to regulate online gaming for its residents. This would see it join the four others – Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
With the introduction of the bill, the five casinos within the state would be able to apply for a licence to offer their games online, including poker. Being accepted by the state would see them receive a five-year licence for a total cost of $250,000, and renewals after this time period being $100,000. Tax from online gaming sites would stand at 15%.
What Else Would This Mean for West Virginia?
As things stand with the current bill, there is no “bad actor” clause involved in it. This means that brands like PokerStars and PartyPoker would be able to enter the West Virginia market as well. Speaking of which, it was just last November that the former of these two brands signed into an agreement with the Eldorado Resorts company, allowing it to provide its poker platform to such.
Within West Virginia, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort is owned by Eldorado Resorts, meaning that it’s highly likely that online poker would be provided by PokerStars at that specific platform, should online gambling become a possibility.
Unfortunately, the sports betting market seems to have come to a bit of a halt within the state. Last Friday, the only sportsbook currently operating within West Virginia was suspended due to Miomni Gaming’s issues. They provide the betting platform to the sportsbook, although at the moment, it is in the middle of a heated contract dispute with one of the suppliers. No further details have been released regarding this for the time being, so it’s unclear as to when a resolution is expected to come.
It is Miomni Gaming that is also the provider for the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos. Online platforms from the three other casinos of West Virginia have yet to be introduced in the state.