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West Virginia Introduces Online Poker Legislation

The Mountain State Looks To Become Fifth State To Legalize Online Poker

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For the third consecutive year, West Virginia has introduced legislation to bring online poker to the Mountain State.

After legalizing sports betting in 2018, Rep. Shawn Fluharty sponsored HB 2178, which would authorize both online poker and casino games in West Virginia.

Fluharty was the driving force behind last year’s failed online gaming bill, and is the lead sponsor again this year alongside co-sponsor Rep. Joe Canestraro.

The bill would allow any of the state’s five brick-and-mortar casinos to operate an online gaming site, which includes Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, The Casino Club at the Greenbrier, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, and Wheeling Island Hotel.

Each license would cost applicants $50,000 to obtain. Operators would be taxed 14 percent on gross gaming revenue.

The recent sports betting legislation that passed gave regulatory responsibility to the Lottery Commission. The commission would also take up those same duties for poker and casino gaming if the bill becomes law.

The bill must now be referred to a committee who will consider the bill and report back to the members of the House and Senate. It is read, amended, and then read a second time before being debated by the members of the legislature. If it is passed by one chamber, it moves on to the second chamber where the entire process is repeated. Only then could the bill go to Gov. Jim Justice to be signed into law.

If the bill is vetoed by the governor, it can be overridden in the legislature by a simple majority in both chambers of the legislature.

If ultimately passed, West Virginia would join Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as states with legal online poker. Pennsylvania passed legislation near the end of 2017 but is still working on implementing it, while the other three have been up and running for a few years.

West Virginia joined New York as the only states in the country with online poker legislation currently pending.