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West Virginia Introduces Legislation To Legalize All Forms Of Online Gaming

Bill Would Legalize Online Casinos, Including Online Poker

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West Virginia is going all in on gambling. Lawmakers in the state, led by Del. Jason Barrett, introduced the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, HB 2934, on Friday. If passed, the bill would legalize all forms of online gambling and allow for online casinos in the state.

The bill hit the floor of the legislature less than one year after the state legalized sports betting and just a month after a bill that would legalize online poker was introduced. HB 2178, the poker bill introduced by Rep. Shawn Fluharty in January, isn’t generating much support in the legislature and earlier versions have failed the previous two years.

Barrett’s new bill would make Fluharty’s piece of legislation irrelevant if passed since online poker would fall under the gambling laws outlined in the more recent bill.

The state’s lottery commission acts as the regulatory body for the state’s sports betting industry and under the proposed law, it would also take on those responsibilities for all online gaming.

Operators would be able to apply for a five-year license from the state that would cost $250,000 each. The state would tax revenue from online operators at 10 percent.

The bill does not include a ‘bad actor’ clause, which would allow sites that operated in the U.S. after the UIGEA was passed, like PokerStars, to enter the West Virginia market. There is language in the bill, however, that would prohibit offshore companies that illegally serve U.S. customers from obtaining a license.

West Virginia’s current legislative session ends on March 9. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary for consideration.