West Virginia Online Casino, Poker Bill Clears Legislature But Plug Pulled for Online Sports Betting

Posted on: March 11, 2019, 11:25h. 

Last updated on: March 11, 2019, 11:55h.

West Virginia’s Lottery Interactive Wagering Act sailed through the Senate on Friday, which means the state stands on the brink of legalizing online casino gaming and poker.

West Virginia online casino
The West Virginia online casino bill will shortly end up on the desk of Governor “Big” Jim Justice. But as an owner of one of the stakeholders in a West Virginia online gaming market, the Greenbrier, he is not expected to veto the legislation. (Image: WSJ)

It’s not West Virginia’s first foray into online gambling — it already has online sports betting, which was legalized last year and launched in January through the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos’ BetLucky app. Coincidentally, also on Friday, those operations were unexpectedly shut down, apparently due to a contractual dispute.

Delaware North, Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island owner, said in a statement that its sports betting platform provider Miomni Gaming had become embroiled in a disagreement with a third-party technology provider, leading to the temporary cessation of both land-based and online sports betting.

BetLucky is the only mobile sports betting act currently serving the West Virginia market, although others are expected to launch soon.

All Eyes on Big Jim

Meanwhile, the state’s online casino and poker bill heads back to the House, where it was emphatically approved in February and where amendments made by the Senate will be reviewed.

From there, it goes to the desk of Governor Jim Justice and — barring a veto from the man they sometimes call “Big Jim” — West Virginia will soon become the fifth state in the US to legalize and regulate online casino gaming.

Just before Christmas, Michigan also stood at this momentous juncture, but its bill was unexpectedly vetoed by its outgoing governor Rick Snyder, one of his last acts before leaving office.

Could Governor Veto?

Justice, however, is unlikely to intervene. As the owner of the Greenbrier luxury hotel resort in the Allegheny Mountains, which contains a casino, his business would be eligible to apply for a new online gaming license. As a stakeholder, he’s likely to stay out of the legislative process, just as he did with sports betting.

Justice neither signed nor vetoed West Virginia’s sports betting bill last year, which meant it became law five days later, in accordance with state law.

The bill would create five licenses for the state’s five commercial gaming establishments, including the Greenbrier — available at $250,000 while operations will be taxed at a reasonable 15 percent, which lawmakers hope will generate $3.9 million per year in tax revenues.

In the meantime, Delaware North said it was working frantically to determine a time frame for the restoration of its sports betting operations. Until then, a spokesperson said the company was honoring and redeeming all outstanding bets.