West Virginia was the first US state to legalize sports betting this year, but it’s been waiting to pass regulatory legislation to officially get going. That process took a major step towards completion Thursday.
The West Virginia Lottery officially approved emergency regulations and thus passed a major obstacle in the way of determining how to administer sports betting in the state.
The Mountain State is now on a torrid pace towards taking its first legal sports bets and could very well be ready by the beginning of fall to join in on the fun that states like New Jersey and Delaware already are enjoying and benefiting from.
The regulations were supremely important to the momentum of sports betting in the state because they filled in some nitty-gritty details on how the practice will be carried out once its officially open for business.
For starters operators are given the opportunity to use temporary sportsbooks for up to nine months. There isn’t much existing in the way of sportsbooks in the state, so allowing for this will help operators get off the ground.
Operators will be allowed to use three “skins” which are essentially online websites and providers that offer sports betting services under a different name than the operator itself. This has been also discussed and allowed in nearby Pennsylvania.
Interim sports betting licenses allow sports operators to accept land-based wagers for 270 days after they arrive giving ample time to renew more permanent licenses. The Lottery Director must also have the power to approve all advertising.
Kiosk are allowed to accept wagers in approved areas, and rules regarding betting must be conspicuously placed on all websites and in-person locations that sports betting will be administered.
While the state has effectively shut out professional sports leagues’ requests for “integrity fees” giving them no mention in the regulations, operators and anyone else who witnesses unusual betting activity and suspicious behavior will have a mandated responsibility to report it.
The inclusion of regulations regarding internet and mobile wagers is a huge sign that the Lottery agrees with state legislature in terms of getting it right and staying modern with its product. Mobile and Online betting will be a massive part of the industry particularly as it gets off the ground and most involved know this.
The casino licensees of the state will be the only ones allowed to administer sports betting, but each of them is allowed to use three platforms from three different additional suppliers. Specifically as its written:
Each casino licensee, in its discretion, may provide no more than three individually branded online sports pool websites and accompanying mobile applications.
This allows operators to deal with multiple sportsbooks that will operate not only within state borders but those that have a physical presence outside of it, which allows for maximum levels of opportunity and selection when picking sports book technology and partnerships.
Making sure each licensee has the right connections and the right sportsbooks connected to ensure the best product possible is made available will be absolutely pivotal to ensuring West Virginia keeps up with other states that have already launched sports betting.
Danielle Boyd, West Virginia Lottery’s Managing Counsel, was highly optimistic that sports betting would be launched sooner than expected rather than later after clearing the hurdle of lottery approval.
“We are optimistic about the timeline, but understand additional minimum internal controls will be required to be implemented, and the systems and infrastructure necessary for wagering still needs to be built.”
The expectations are that sports betting will officially be ready to go by September 1st which would be significant. It would be sliding in just in time for the start of the NCAA Football, National Football League and other major fall sports seasons.
College football is huge for West Virginia as both the University of West Virginia in Morgantown and Marshall University are recognized throughout the country as notable programs. Both teams sport impressive basketball teams as well and met in the NCAA Tournament last season.
“The NFL and college football and college basketball are the sports,” John Cavacini, president of the West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association said earlier this month. “So I would expect at least in the early going if we get started that we would have some significant numbers as it relates to football, both pro and college.”