[toc]In a sign that West Virginia is getting serious about sports betting, the state lottery there has agreed to pay $160,000 for a study on the impact of legalization.
The contract was first reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail and confirmed by Legal Sports Report.
The WV Lottery and sports betting
The West Virginia Lottery awarded a contract to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, which just released a report on the nationwide prospects of legal sports betting, should states be allowed to regulate it. That report indicated that more than 30 states would be likely to legalize sports gambling by 2023, West Virginia included.
State Lottery Commission Director Alan Larrick talked with the Gazette-Mail:
Under the contract, the firm of Eilers and Krejcik Gaming of Santa Ana, California, is to “review opportunities and potential economic impact of implementing sports betting and other forms of internet gaming in West Virginia.”
“It’s really an informational-type situation for us to be as informed as possible,” Larrick said. “Depending on what happens, if we’re given the power to go forward with sports gaming, we want to be ready to go forward with as much knowledge and information as we can possibly get.”
The lottery’s interest in sports wagering is not new. This summer, Larrick indicated he wanted the lottery to be ready for a possible quick rollout of a sports betting product.
The legislative outlook for sports betting in WV
A sports betting bill surfaced in West Virginia earlier this year, but it never advanced in the legislature. The sponsor of that bill, Delegate Shawn Fluharty, is hopeful that a similar bill will gain traction in January, when the statehouse reconvenes.
“With the Lottery Commission on board, the gaming industry and public sentiment in favor, I fully expect the legislation to run and be effective come July,” Fluharty told LSR. “Anything less would be doing a disservice to our taxpayers and would once again be an example of West Virginia leaders remaining on the sidelines.”
While more than a dozen states have considered the prospect of regulation this year, only Connecticut and Mississippi appear to have taken concrete steps toward legalization.
West Virginia on the leading edge of sports gambling
Beyond Fluharty’s bill and the lottery’s interest, West Virginia had already been invested in the sports betting debate.
The state’s attorney general led an amicus brief — involving 20 states — in the New Jersey sports betting case that said the federal ban should be struck down.
That case should be heard in the US Supreme Court later this year and decided in 2018. A win for New Jersey would likely mean that states like West Virginia could pass their own sports betting laws.