West Virginia has become the fifth state to legalize online poker and online casino gambling, after Governor Jim Justice signed H 2934 into law. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act also makes the state the third one to legalize mobile sports betting, online poker and online casino gaming – putting it in the same league as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The first online casinos are set to go live by 2020. West Virginia already has a legal online sports betting industry up and running, after the state adopted legislation on the back of a change in federal sports betting laws in May 2018.
The bill expands West Virginia’s gambling options significantly, allowing the five land-based casinos to apply for an operating license. Players will thus be able to play games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, slots and poker online.
The five casinos that will be allowed to apply for a license are:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Wheeling Island Hotel
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- Mardi Grass Casino and Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
H 2934 in a nutshell:
- The law will anyone 21 years and older, within West Virginia’s state lines, to play online casino games and online poker.
- Play can take place from any computer or mobile device from anywhere in the state.
- The state will collect a 15% tax from gambling revenue.
- Additional revenue will be collected through licensing. Licenses will cost $250,000 per operator, which is valid for 5 years. It will cost $100,000 to renew.
- Platform and service management licenses will cost $100,000.
- Supplier licenses will cost $10,000.
- The state should make around $11.5 million in first-year revenue.
Much support has been heard around the online casino and poker world for West Virigina’s move. Poker legend, Phil Hellmuth tweeted his support for the Governor Jim Justice’s decision, saying: “The legalization of online poker is a no-brainer, as obviously poker is a game of skill. Congrats West Virginia and the folks in WV.”
West Virginia has been fighting for legal online gambling for a while, and optimism mounted when the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act cleared the House and Senate without a hitch, before heading to Governor Justice’s table.