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West Virginia Becomes Fifth State To Legalize Online Gambling

Joins Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania As States With Legal Online Gambling


West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize online gaming, including online poker, on Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Jim Justice didn’t sign HB 2934, better known as the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, but didn’t veto the bill either. According to West Virginia law, the governor has 15 days to veto or sign a piece of legislation once it hits his desk. If nothing happens in that time period, the bill becomes law.

That’s what happened here, giving residents of The Mountain State the opportunity to gamble online in all forms. The bill was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and sat on Justice’s desk for more than two weeks.

West Virginia joins Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as the only states to offer online betting on anything other than sports betting.

Pennsylvania has yet to launch its online gaming platforms and there is a chance that West Virginia could beat them to market and become the fourth state to launch. Estimates are that the state’s online casinos and poker rooms could be open for business either in late 2019 or early 2020.

The bill will allow for five online gaming licenses in the state. Only land-based, brick-and-mortar casinos are eligible to receive one and it will cost $250,000 for a five-year license. A license can be renewed every five years for $100,000.

Online gambling revenue will be taxed at 15 percent. Players must be 21 or over to play on the sites.

PokerStars made an agreement with Eldorado Resorts last November to provide their online poker platform. Eldorado owns Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Cumberland, making it inevitable that the world’s largest online poker provider will be available in West Virginia.

The Casino Club at the Greenbrier, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, and Wheeling Island are the other four casinos in the state.

It’s likely that in the coming months, other major operators will form partnerships with one of those four casinos in order to get a piece of the West Virginia market.

With the latest Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act, it is unlikely West Virginia will join a compact with other states to share online poker player pools.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have spearheaded efforts to have the opinion overturned, but if it isn’t, then the current compact between Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey could be broken up. That would leave West Virginia’s population of 1.79 million to compete among themselves.