After becoming the first state to legalize sports betting in 2018, West Virginia now has a framework in place for the industry.
The WV Lottery approved emergency regulations this afternoon, poised to administer WV sports betting beginning this year. The agency has free rein to make modifications between now and December.
The Mountain State is actually the second state to approve sports betting regulations today. Mississippi did the same with its own rules this morning.
WV regulators expect the industry to get off the ground before Sept. 1.
WV sports betting regulations
As you’d expect, the regulations are intricately detailed. There are two pages of instructions listing the information operators need to print on their betting slips, for example.
Here are some of the basic provisions:
- Operators may use a temporary sportsbook for up to nine months.
- Each operator can offer up to three individually branded online platforms — or “skins.”
- Applications for interim licenses will allow operators to commence land-based and online sports betting for 270 days, commencing immediately upon approval.
- Kiosks may be used to accept and settle wagers in approved locations.
- Unusual betting activity must be disclosed to regulators or an “accredited sports integrity entity.” Activity that rises to the level of “suspicious” must be reported immediately.
- Rules and available wagers must be conspicuously posted in-house. Online sportsbooks must display a responsible gaming badge.
- The Lottery Director must approve all advertising related to sports betting.
The regulations also stipulate a wide array of minimum internal controls, covering security and accounting and all other procedures of compliance.
Here’s the full 20-page document:West Virginia sports betting regulations 6.21.18
Mobile/internet wagering regulations
Especially considering West Virginia’s rural footprint, online and mobile betting will be a cornerstone of the industry’s overall well-being.
Regulators have taken what appears to be a measured approach to regulating these modern platforms. All wagering must be conducted through one of the state’s casino licensees, but each can use up to three additional suppliers.
Here’s the regulatory language:
Each casino licensee, in its discretion, may provide no more than three individually branded online sports pool websites and accompanying mobile applications.
So, for example, a casino could partner with William Hill US to power its land-based sportsbook and its primary digital platform. But then it could also lease its license to a group like DraftKings or FanDuel, or to another online sportsbook without a physical presence in the state.
Patrons will be able to create an online wagering account without needing to visit a brick-and-mortar casino, but they’ll have to be located within the state when they bet. Online suppliers are required to employ geolocation technology to protect the borders.
The skin provision is somewhat controversial among operators, but the lottery says it “recognize[s] the commercial value such partnerships might bring to West Virginia.”
Timeline for launch?
WV Lottery Managing Counsel Danielle Boyd is one of those responsible for creating the regulatory language, and she told Legal Sports Report that the process is moving along quickly.
“We are optimistic about the timeline,” she said, “but understand additional minimum internal controls will be required to be implemented, and the systems and infrastructure necessary for wagering still needs to be built.”
According to Boyd’s forecast, the pieces should be in place by Sept. 1 “at the latest.”
If that timeline holds, WV sportsbooks will catch the start of both the NFL season and the college sports season for its two Division-I schools, Marshall and WVU.
WV sports betting backstory
It’s been a while since we visited West Virginia, so maybe a quick refresher is in order.
WV sports betting became law in March of this year despite Gov. Jim Justice refusing to sign the bill. The governor owns one of the properties permitted to offer sports betting, and he was one of the few WV stakeholders to give the sports leagues a listening ear. Both chambers of the legislature passed the bill by overwhelming margins — and without including any of the league-requested items.
Lawmakers and regulators were concerned that Justice would try to hold up progress at the leagues’ behest, but that ship finally sailed. The governor backed down, and the industry is poised for launch in the coming months.
Sports betting will be available through the states’ four public casinos plus the private one at The Greenbrier — the governor’s resort. The five venues will pay $100,000 apiece for the privilege to offer sports betting, and they’ll pay back ten percent of their revenue in taxes. The industry falls under the lottery’s oversight.
The state expects to realize about $5.5 million in first-year revenue.