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West Virginia Senate Passes Sports Betting Bill

House Of Delegates To Look At The Measure


West Virginia’s Senate moved ahead with a sports betting bill Tuesday.

In anticipation of a change to federal law that prohibits the activity, the state is just the latest to advance legislation to prepare for legal sports betting. Virginia State Senators passed the measure by a 25-9 vote, sending the issue over to the House of Delegates for further consideration. Virginia is one of about 20 states to take steps to prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

That law limited traditional sports betting to only Nevada.

Under the bill, existing West Virginia gambling facilities would be allowed to have sports books, as well as offer betting over mobile devices. Operators would have to pay a $100,000 licensing fee and hand 10 percent of their revenues over to the state.

Regulated sports betting could provide a much-needed boost to West Virginia’s coffers and its licensed casinos. The casino industry there has taken a hit from gambling expansion in neighboring states, especially in Ohio and Maryland.

There about 30 casinos operating in three of the five states that border West Virginia. “Over the past decade, West Virginia’s casino industry has seen an explosion of competition from surrounding states,” said a report from the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s top lobbying group. “In 2006, none of its neighbors had casinos."

In addition to sports betting, the state is looking at legalizing online poker sites.