The news for online gaming and poker continues to be on the rise. Coming out of nowhere, the state of West Virginia has become the fifth state to authorize online gaming and poker inside its borders. The bill pushing for such activities became law after Governor Jim Justice did not sign the legislation passed by the West Virginia legislature earlier this week, thereby immediately passing the bill and enacting it into law.
Don’t Rush to the Internet Just Yet…
Of course, the new West Virginia online gaming and poker industry isn’t going to have the switch flipped immediately. There are going to be some processes that need to be worked out, especially when it comes to the licensing. There are currently five casinos that are in West Virginia and, by the statutes of House Bill 2934, they can apply for the appropriate online gaming licenses. These casinos (and their locations) are:
Hollywood Casino, Charles Town Races, Charleston
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Charleston
Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack, New Cumberland
The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs
Wheeling Island Hotel, Wheeling
The new law opens the state for the entire array of casino gaming. Blackjack, online slots and other virtual table games will be available for citizens of The Mountain State. Additionally, online poker will be on the virtual menu for the folks from West Virginia.
The five casinos in West Virginia will have to obtain an online gaming license from the West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association, which oversees such activities in the state. An initial license from the WVGRA will be $250,000, with a renewal coming up every five years for an additional $100,000. Any revenues from online gaming operations, regardless of arena, will be taxed at 15%.
The Numbers Keep Going Up
The last two years has seen a tremendous move forward for online gaming and poker in the States of America. After laying dormant for three years after the “Original Three” – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – first passed online gaming and/or poker regulations, there has finally been movement by other states. In 2016, Pennsylvania joined the party but, as of today, they haven’t dealt a hand of online poker or accepted a bet as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board looks to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed once it opens.
The online gaming and poker world were teased in late 2018 when the Michigan General Assembly passed online gaming and poker legislation prior to the close of their legislative session. In a stunning move, however, then-Governor Rick Snyder unceremoniously vetoed the bill (after all previous indications had been he would sign it), citing that it “hadn’t been studied fully” prior to being passed.
Michigan isn’t giving up, however. New legislation is currently working its way through the General Assembly. This time, new Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has stated she will sign new gaming legislation should it come before her.
West Virginia has already stepped to the plate regarding sports betting at the end of 2018 (becoming one of seven states that offer the activity), but it had not yet stepped up regarding casino gaming. That changed with HB 2934, a natural extension of the sports betting activities that had been previously passed.
Will There Be More?
Expect more states to begin entertaining the ideas of sports betting, online gaming and poker regulations for their states. After the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, more and more states have begun looking to online gaming, poker and sports betting to relieve budgetary stress in their budgets. With the federal government’s recent move to reinstate the Wire Act as the “rule of the land” and perhaps go even further into formulating new regulations regarding online gaming, many states are rushing to get their laws on the books before they are perhaps forbidden by the federal government.
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