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West Virginia May Become Fifth State to Legalize Online Poker

Written By: Maya Michaels | January 16, 2019 | Posted In Poker News

Lawmakers in West Virginia are trying for the third time to regulate online gambling in the Mountain State by introducing House Bill 2178 on 9 January.

West Virginia’s legislative session began and with it, the new bill came to light. This marks the third consecutive year that West Virginia lawmakers will consider online gambling regulation and the proponents believe it could be third time the luck since the state was the first that regulated sports betting in 2018 after the repeal of PASPA.

HB 2178 was sponsored by Delegates Shawn Fluharty and Joseph Canestraro and if passed, the bill will authorize both online poker and casino games and fall under the authority of the West Virginia Lottery Commission.

Licenses would cost $50,000 and Gross Gaming Revenues would be taxed at a reasonable rate of 14%. The bill would allow any of the state’s existing five land-based casinos to get into online gaming: the Casino Club at the Greenbrier, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort and Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack.

The licensed casinos would have to offer games under their own brands that are already familiar to West Virginia players. The application process would begin 90 days after the passage of legislation and although the previous bills never made it out of committee, this year may be different since sports betting is not a priority now.

The bill will allow licensees to offer online poker and other authorized games to players physically located in the state, over the age of 21. The use of bots is not permitted and there is no mention of slot games. They may come under the category of “video lottery” since they are games of luck, but we will have to wait and see how the things unravel in the next two months. The bill must now be referred to a committee who will consider the bill and report back to the members of the House and Senate.

The bill also allows West Virginia to join poker pools with other countries and increase liquidity. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are the United States countries that currently share poker pools under a multistate agreement.  Pennsylvania was the fourth country to legalize online gaming at the end of 2018 but is still pending launch.

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