West Virginia Sports Betting Overcomes Latest Hurdle

West Virginia Sports Betting Overcomes Latest Hurdle

West Virginia gaming officials are confident a delay in the governor’s office will not prevent state casinos from taking their first bets in time for football season.

Speaking to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association President John Cavacini said he expects the state’s five casinos to be eligible to take bets by September. He said a delay came as the office of governor Jim Justice reviewed final rules for sports betting. The review yielded no changes.

Now West Virginia’s government is set to accept license applications from these casinos later this week. It should be the fifth state in America to take a legal sports bet, sometime in the next six weeks. Approving the infrastructure and regulations for online betting is estimated to take a bit longer, but officials are optimistic bets will be taken from mobile devices anywhere in the state won’t be too far from the launch in land-based casinos.

West Government Works Through Laws

West Virginian government’s had been one of the most eager bodies to embrace of sports gambling expansion. Seeing that come to fruition has not been as easy.

Legislative efforts to bring legalized sports betting to the Mountain State were perhaps the most straightforward part of legalization. Even before the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, West Virginia lawmakers worked to create a legal framework to take bets.

The West Virginia Senate passed a sports betting bill with a 25-9 vote in February. The state’s House of Delegates approved the bill by a 77-22 margin less than two weeks later.

One of the earliest bills to pass any statehouse, West Virginia’s sports legalization bill received extensive lobbying from professional sports leagues. Though they had opposed sports betting in court, after the Supreme Court ruling they sought what they called an “integrity fee” as a means to protect the sports from outside influences. The leagues sought one percent of all revenue, a request that was rejected by state lawmakers in West Virginia and in other states considering legalization.

With lawmakers opposed, the leagues turned their attention to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. Unlike most other governors, he proved more amenable to acquiescing to the leagues’ demands. Justice is also the owner of the Greenbriar, one of the state’s five licensed gambling facilities and home to an annual PGA Tour event as well as NFL training camps. Ultimately he allowed the bill to come into law without his signature.

Final Regulations Come Into Effect

While the law was settled earlier this spring, the state still need to hammer out its final regulations. The state lottery board gained oversight of sports betting implementation and on June 21 it approved its regulatory framework for the state’s five casinos. After sending it for final validation to the governor’s office, the board announced it was able to move forward with licensing this week.

Casinos will still need to meet stipulations for security, betting windows and independent testing of bet taking equipment, among other criteria. In the Gazette-Mail article, Lottery counsel Danielle Boyd said this should allow the casinos to be up and running come Sep. 1.

In the meantime the casinos are forming partnerships with leading sports gambling technology providers and betting providers, including the Greenbriar, which worked out a deal with leading daily fantasy provider FanDuel.

Despite the prolonged effort to finalize sports betting, West Virginia is one of the earliest adaptors for legal sports betting in the nation. With Pennsylvania unable to garner betting partners due to high fees and the rest of West Virginia’s neighbors a year or more from legalizing sports betting, the state has still positioned itself as a de facto monopoly for gamblers looking to place a bet in the region.

Interested in learning more about the current US sports betting landscape? Check out our latest Gamblecast explaining everything you need to know about US sports betting:

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