West Virginia has a sports betting law. So now what?
While the legislature and governor enacted the law, the heavy lifting for implementation of legal WV sports betting still needs to take place.
Almost all of that work will fall to the West Virginia Lottery, which will oversee sports betting in the state. A rollout of sports gambling in the state would take the US Supreme Court striking down the federal ban on single-game wagering in the New Jersey sports betting case.
WV Lottery General Counsel Danielle Boyd talked to Legal Sports Report about the next steps for the state and sports betting.
WV lottery on sports betting
Legal Sports Report: Can you give me an idea of what will happen next in West Virginia and sports betting, and what kind of timeline we are looking at?
Boyd: As far as a timeline is concerned, obviously a lot of this is predicated on the Supreme Court issuing a ruling. At this point in time we’re still going to continue to work with our consultants at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming for one, and utilizing all the resources that are available to us to begin the internal minimum controls process, as well as begin the first steps in promulgating the emergency rules that are authorized by Senate Bill 415.
So right now we are working on collecting contacts from various states, specifically Nevada and New Jersey, that we may be able to contact who are currently operating sportsbooks. Hopefully, we’ll be able to visit with them, see how they’re operating on site as well as discuss any regulations that they have in place that they may be able to share with us.
LSR: So is it safe to say we’re not going to see much happen until a Supreme Court ruling in Murphy vs. NCAA?
Boyd: At this juncture, we’ll review any additional provisions we may need to implement by legislative rule prior to Dec. 21, 2018, while we still have emergency rule status, and we may end up providing some additional requirements or add clarifications via rule on the licensing front.
As far as the Supreme Court ruling, we have no plans to begin licensing until after we have a ruling that would authorize us to do so. However, we want to be prepared so we can implement as quickly as possible, if and when that ruling is issued.
90 days from decision to launch?
LSR: So how long after a decision might it take for sports betting to get up and running?
Boyd: When we had preliminary discussions with the casinos about the timeline for implementation, it was our understanding that they believed that they would be able to up and running within 90 days of a decision from the Supreme Court.
That is of course contingent on our working diligently to put any necessary regulations, rules and minimum internal control standards in place that would be necessary for them to begin working on the infrastructure to place wagers on site and via mobile applications.
LSR: It’s one thing to have a law on the books, but there’s still a lot for you to do before wagering actually takes place in the state, it sounds like.
Boyd: Absolutely, and we are committed to ensuring that we maintain the security and integrity of the lottery and that the casinos are committed to doing the same for the games that will be offered on their properties and via their mobile apps. We will utilize any and all industry resources that are available to us and lean on our experts that have been operating in domestic markets as well as international markets for many years.
All five casinos with sports betting?
LSR: So will all five gaming facilities in the state — the four racinos and The Greenbrier — authorized to conduct sports wagering take part?
Boyd: Yes, it’s our understanding that all five facilities are prepared to participate and fully implement as soon as authorization from the Supreme Court allows them to do so.
LSR: Could we se five different sports betting mobile apps in West Virginia?
Boyd: Yes, it’s quite possible that all five could contract with different sportsbook operators and offer five separate mobile applications. We’ll provide the specifications that the software and mobile apps must meet at a minimum, and as long as the supplies meet those requirements and qualify for licensure then the casinos will be able to contract with the supplier of their choosing.
LSR: Will applications be accepted before a SCOTUS ruling?
Boyd: I think it’s dependent on the timing of the ruling. Because as we move forward if we come to a point where it makes sense to start accepting applications, then we will make that decision at that point in time. If that happens before the Supreme Court issues a ruling, then we will make sure we aren’t doing anything to delay the process.
However, if we haven’t gotten that far by the time the Supreme Court issues a ruling, then we’ll continue to work as diligently as possible to make sure the casinos are able to implement as soon as possible.