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West Virginia Sports Betting Apps Legal
The conversation for online Sports Betting in West Virginia wasn’t one that started early. However, the legislature’s interest was piqued when New Jersey challenged a federal ban on sports betting (PASPA) in 2016.
West Virginia was one of five states to join New Jersey in this fight. They triumphed when the Supreme Court abolished PASPA in May 2018.
Lawmakers began their efforts with the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act (S 415) in 2018 and managed to get regulated sports betting off the ground just in time for that NFL season. Despite some early moments of needed revision, implementation eventually came to include online betting.
The very next year, the legislature approved another update to the state’s gaming industry. Lawmakers then passed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (H 2934) in 2019, legalizing full-scale online gambling — including online poker.
Today, the Mountain State is one of the few in which all three major forms of online gambling are legalized:
The first West Virginia online casino rolled out in July 2020.
Online operators across all verticals must partner with one of the state’s five land-based casino license holders in order to access the West Virginia market. Each licensee may partner up with as many as three online sportsbook brands plus three apiece for traditional “iGaming” including casino and poker.
Requirements for authorization of interactive wagering in this state :
- An operator shall accept wagers on interactive games authorized under this article from persons physically present in a licensed gaming facility where authorized interactive wagering occurs.
- A person placing a wager shall be at least 21 years of age. Enr. HB 2934
- An operator may accept wagers from an individual physically located within this state using a mobile or other digital platform or an interactive wagering device, approved by the commission, through the patron’s interactive wagering account.
- An operator may accept wagers from an individual physically located in a state or jurisdiction with which the commission has entered into an interactive wagering agreement using a mobile or other digital platform or an interactive wagering device through the patron’s interactive wagering account, so long as the device or platform is approved by the commission and all other requirements of the agreement are satisfied.
- The commission or operator may ban any person from entering a gaming area of a gaming facility conducting interactive wagering or the grounds of a gaming facility licensed under this article or from participating in the play or operation of any West Virginia Lottery interactive wagering.
- A log of all excluded players shall be kept by the commission and each licensee, and no player on the commission’s exclusion list or the licensed operator’s exclusion list shall wager on any West Virginia Lottery interactive wagering under this article.
- The commission shall promulgate rules implementing the provisions of §29-22E-15(a) and §29-22E-15(b) of this code by interpretive rule and minimum internal control standards. The commission shall conduct all interactive wagering pursuant to the provisions of this article, and such gaming activities shall be deemed to occur at the licensed gaming facilities authorized to conduct interactive wagering.
- No licensed gaming facility employee may place a wager on any interactive wagering at the employer’s facility or through any other mobile application or digital platform of their employer.
- No commission employee may knowingly wager or be paid any prize from any wager placed at any licensed gaming facility with West Virginia Lottery interactive wagering within this state or at any facility outside this jurisdiction that is directly or indirectly owned or operated by a West Virginia interactive wagering licensee.
West Virginia’s sports betting law was in place prior to the PASPA decision, allowing the state a quick transition to implement development.
Key specifics of the law include:
- The Lottery Commission oversees all licenses and approvals. The Commission selects a separate independent professional to regularly assess security and system integrity.
- Licensing fees were set at $100,000, initially and annually. All operators must maintain a cash reserve equal to the current pool (and not less than $500,000) to cover liability.
- Up to three different branded sites and accompanying apps will be allowed for each license, so long as they clearly indicate the name of the license holding casino.
- No integrity fee was included in the law, despite a big push during the final parts of the legislative process.
Overall the regulations have made it fairly easy for licensees to begin operations. Most notably, is the tax rate at a very favorable 10% which is similar to New Jersey's 8.5% rate (land-based, online is slightly higher at 13%), and drastically lower than the 36% in neighboring Pennsylvania.
Some legislators have questioned if the low tax rate was too generous? But with West Virginia being a very small market with a state population of only 1.8 million people. This limited pool of bettors means the few businesses in operation can be more susceptible to the occasional bad week with negative revenues.
The state itself has a very mountainous environment and even short travel on its roads can be time-consuming, so reaching land-based locations is not necessarily easy. Online/mobile wagering has definitely allowed a higher level of reach and access.