[toc]The West Virginia Lottery is talking about the possibility of legal sports betting, should New Jersey prevail in its case in front of the US Supreme Court.
The latest on WV and sports betting
Several states have indicated some level of interest in regulated sports betting should the opportunity arise. The quickest way for that to happen, of course, is via the NJ sports betting case.
West Virginia introduced sports betting legislation earlier this year. The prospects of the New Jersey case has brought the effort to the surface again as a result.
First, the director of the WV Lottery told MetroNews that his department was watching the case:
West Virginia Lottery Director Allan Larrick said it is a situation lottery officials are keeping a close eye on.
“We are definitely researching that issue,” Larrick said. “If it would be approved, and the state legislature goes forward and approves it, we’d be ready to go as quickly as possible. We would like to be prepared if in fact that happens.”
The sponsor of the initial sports betting legislation, Rep. Shawn Fluharty, wants to revive his effort. His bill hadn’t gained much traction yet.
It’s almost like I’ve been on to something for well over a year … https://t.co/C623rI8Qbj
— Shawn Fluharty (@WVUFLU) July 31, 2017
Sports betting had already been on West Virginia’s radar
That West Virginia would be in the market for legal sports wagering is hardly a surprise. It’s a state with casinos and racetracks that would benefit from the attraction of having sports gambling.
Fluharty’s legislative effort cropped up this spring. And West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has already filed an amicus brief in NJ sports betting case in a lower court.
The state AG is likely to join other AGs in a similar SCOTUS brief. The AGs are not necessarily advocating for legal sports betting. But do advance the idea that the federal sports betting ban (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) violates states’ rights.
The opportunity for first movers on sports betting
Several states are looking to be first to the gate should NJ win, which would mean states could legalize sports betting if they desire. California, Connecticut and Mississippi are the most recent examples.
But no one is yet ready to go on Day 1, should NJ ultimately win its case and PASPA is struck down. Fluharty noted the advantages of first movers in the sports betting space in talking with The Associated Press:
“If we’re able to get in front of this, we might be able to get out ahead of the other states for a few years,” Fluharty said. “The state desperately needs to generate new revenue.”
For now, West Virginia is one of several states where some see the benefits of sports betting. But whether it will act to legalize remains up in the air.