West Virginia Introduces Online Gambling Law

west virginiaA new bill, which seeks to introduce online gambling to West Virginia, was introduced recently by Delegate Shawn Fluharty, along with four co-sponsors. H-3067 is the Mountain State’s first attempt to legalize and regulate this market within its borders. It also makes West Virginia the seventh state this year alone to attempt to pass online gambling legislation.

H-3067 seeks to “authorize Internet gambling through managed and licensed through existing authorized gaming facilities in West Virginia.”

Penned together with Delegates Sean Hornbuckle, Mike Pushkin, Joseph Canestraro and Mick Bates, the bill reads: “Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming and licensed facilities to or for the benefit of the communities in which they operate.”

So what are the outlines of H-3067?

For one, the regulation of any future online gambling framework in West Virginia will fall under the duties of the West Virginia Lottery Commission. This authority will be allowed to license existing gaming facilities and race tracks in the state to offer online gambling services for a fee of $50,000. Licensees will have to also pay a 14% tax rate on gross gaming revenue.

H-3067 also carries the usual clauses that can be found in almost all online gambling proposals adopted by other states. For example, players may not be under the age of 21, and operators need to do all they can to ensure that players are not underage. Operators will also be tasked with the responsibility for ensuring that players are located within the borders of the state. They will need to provider fair, honest and transparent games and separate players’ money from operating funds. The highest level of responsible gaming protocols will need to be put in place, and software to detect cheating and bots will also be required.

What is interesting is that H-3067 already makes provisions for interstate online gambling by allowing the Commission to enter into compacts with other jurisdictions of similar standards. “Authorized interactive gaming, once fully developed, will allow persons in this state to participate in interactive games, not only with other persons in this state, but with persons in other cooperating jurisdictions in the United States where interactive gaming has been authorized,” it reads.

Unlicensed operators will be penalized, with second-time offenders facing a felony charge and a $300,000 fine and up to 3 years in prison.

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