February 2021 Launch for West Virginia Online Gaming: Lottery Director

Posted on: April 3, 2019, 05:48h. 

Last updated on: April 3, 2019, 05:48h.

Last week, West Virginia became the fifth jurisdiction in the US to legalize online casino gaming and poker, but Mountain State residents who may be itching to log on and start check raising and doubling down will have to let it ride, for now at least.

West Virginia online gaming
State Del. Shawn Fluharty (pictured) had hoped to get West Virginia online gaming up and running as soon as possible to maximize revenues, but no dice, says Lottery Director John Myers. (Image: WV Legislature)

WV Metro News reports that, while the state’s Lottery Interactive Wagering Act has provided the West Virginia Lottery with a deadline of June 2020 to draw up and finalize a framework of regulation for online gaming, regulators are in no hurry to get the market up and running.

State Lottery Director John Myers told the news station that February 2021 would be a likely debut for West Virginia online gaming, which would allow it to launch once the distractions of the US presidential election had dissipated. Although that’s a good three months after the elections.

“We got them to move it back a few months just to give us time to get through there,” he explained.

What, Really?

That’s a longer wait than the bill’s proponents in the legislature anticipated. West Virginia legalized sports betting a year ago, and the first wagering operations were launched eight months later, in December 2018.

That suggested that late that this year, or early next, might be a plausible timeline, with lawmakers eager to let the revenues roll in as soon as possible.

Online gaming will likely have a bigger impact than sports betting,” Del. Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) told PlayWV this week. “If you look at the numbers and how it seems to be in other states and the revenue generation factor compared to sports betting, I think it’s a game changer.”

“I fully expect it to be up and running and hopefully we don’t have the issues with it that we did with sports betting,” he added.

Sports Betting Bust Up

Fluharty is referring to a dispute between Delaware North’s (DN) sports betting provider Miomni Gaming, and a third-party supplier, which resulted in the suspension last month of operations at DN’s Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos. The plug was also pulled on the BetLucky sports betting app — West Virginia’s only online wagering platform. Last week DN announced it had parted company with Miomni and operations remain on hold.

Meanwhile. West Virginia’s new online gaming law will authorize its five land-based casinos to offer online internet gaming and poker to customers aged 21 and over. But first, the Lottery Commission must formulate a framework of regulations.

The bill advises the commission to “examine the regulations implemented in other states where interactive wagering is conducted and … as far as practicable, adopt a similar regulatory framework through promulgation of rules.”