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Online Casino Gambling: West Virginia Considers Internet Poker

State Is Bleeding Gambling Dollars To Neighboring States

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Facing shrinking gaming revenues, West Virginia has thrown its hat into the ring for online casino gambling. Thanks to a bill filed Tuesday, it is now the eighth state to do so this year.

The new bill, H 3067, seeks to legalize and regulate online gaming within state borders. West Virginia joins the likes of California, Pennsylvania, New York, Hawaii, Michigan, New Hampshire and Massachusetts in considering online betting in 2017.

According to the West Virginia proposal: “Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming and licensed facilities to or for the benefit of the communities in which they operate.”

The state first began looking at internet gaming in 2014.

The state’s casinos won $638.5 million from gamblers last year, but it was 2.6 percent less than what was won in 2015. The start to 2017 was a bad one for West Virginia, with gaming win tumbling 15 percent year-over-year, according to data from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

In the 2007 fiscal year, which was the best ever for the state’s casino industry, gaming win was $972.6 million. The state has five brick-and-mortar casinos.

“Over the past decade, West Virginia’s casino industry has seen an explosion of competition from surrounding states,” said a recent report from the American Gaming Association. “In 2006, none of its neighbors had casinos. But today, there are a total of 28 casinos operating in three of the five states that border West Virginia.”

Late last year, a $1.4 billion casino from MGM Resorts opened in Maryland, just an hour drive from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. That opening isn’t good news for the West Virginia casino.

As an Associated Press report put it: “In days gone by, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races was one of the only gambling and racing destinations for the Washington, D.C., area residents to choose from.”

In the two weeks after MGM National Harbor’s opening, slot machine revenue at the casino dropped 20 percent, while table game win dipped 22 percent.