Legal Sports Report

West Virginia sports betting

West Virginia is as close to having legal sports betting as any state between Nevada and New Jersey.

The state enacted a sports betting law in March of 2018 that would take effect if the US Supreme Court issues an opinion allowing it to take affect.

Single-game wagering remains federally illegal outside of Nevada under PASPA, but that ban is being challenged in SCOTUS in the New Jersey sports betting case. Should the court rule in favor of the states, they could be permitted to set their own rules regarding sports betting.

In anticipation of the verdict, WV lawmakers have already acted.

Recent WV sports betting news

Legal sports betting basics in West Virginia

Sports betting is currently legal under West Virginia law, with a change to federal law.

The state’s lottery still must promulgate rules that will oversee the new industry, but we could see sports wagering in the state as soon as the fall of 2018.

 

West Virginia sports betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in West Virginia?

Yes, if PASPA is struck down by the Supreme Court or Congress.

Who would oversee West Virginia sports betting?

The West Virginia Lottery Commission would oversee the state’s sports betting industry under current proposals.

Where can I bet on sports in West Virginia?

Nowhere currently. The law allows sports betting at the state’s five existing gambling facilities and on mobile devices.

Who can apply for a West Virginia sports betting license?

Tthe state’s casinos and racinos would be able to accept wagers on sporting events.

West Virginia has four race-track casinos:

  • Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
  • Mardi Gras Casino and Resort Cross Lanes
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel

In addition, the The Casino Club at The Greenbrier is authorized to conduct many forms of gambling.

Who will be able to bet on sports in West Virginia?

The legal gambling age in West Virginia is 21.

Will mobile sports betting be available in West Virginia?

Yes.

West Virginia sports betting timeline

2018: State enacts sports betting bill, stiff-arms leagues

Delegate Shawn Fluharty reintroduced his 2017 effort once again in 2018. This time, his bill was backed up by a matching one in the Senate, S 106. Both bills started the year in their respective Judiciary Committees.

It was a third bill that ended up moving, though.

S 415 was introduced at the behest of the state lottery commission, and it was more comprehensive than related bills. It set the licensing and renewal fee at $100,000 and shifts the tax rate to 10 percent of revenue, a manageable number for operators.

The Senate passed the bill in February, and the House passed it quickly thereafter, becoming the first state legislature to do so in 2018. A matching House bill  (H 4396) had already cleared a committee hearing, paving the path to passage in the lower chamber.

As the chatter built, the NBA and MLB hired lobbyists to push their agenda in WV. The leagues began to support sports betting legislation, but only if it that met their list of five demands. One of those demands asks operators to pay leagues one percent of the total amount wagered, or handle, as an integrity fee.

Gov. Jim Justice allowed the bill to become law without his signature in March.

2017: First WV sports betting bills appear, study commissioned

In March 2017, Fluharty introduced H 2751.

The bill moved to add language to the state’s constitution that would legalize and regulate sports betting at WV casinos. It was the state’s first bill on the topic.

Fluharty’s bill charged the Lottery Commission with oversight of the state’s sports betting industry. It would allow betting on professional sports and most collegiate sports, taxing the total handle at two percent.

The bill also produced a so-called “legislative finding” affirming that the federal government has no authority to prohibit sports betting in WV. It declared that the decision to legalize sports betting lies in the states’ hands. The finding reads, in part:

Sports pool betting… in the state is owned by the state and therefore the right to conduct sports pool betting may be licensed by the Lottery Commission…

As further evidence of its intentions, the state paid $160,000 to commission a 2017 study on the prospects of legal sports betting.

Backstory: Standing with New Jersey

West Virginia has long stood in support of New Jersey in its own attempts to legalize sports betting.

State AG Patrick Morrissey filed amicus curiae briefs in both of the NJ sports betting cases, expressing the perceived threat to state sovereignty and core principles of federalism. The subsequent WV sports betting bills included a direct challenge to PASPA and federal overreach.

From H 2751:

Whereas our State Attorney General is challenging the usurpation of the federal government of state authority to regulate sports pool betting and has articulated in the briefs of the State of West Virginia in Cristie v. NCAA,  16-476, U.S. Supreme Court, that the U.S. Congress has no power to prevent state governments from authorizing sports betting as a form of gaming and therefore, the Legislature finds that it is reasonable and appropriate, for the State of West Virginia to proceed with legalizing sports pool betting pursuant to this article.

It’s strong language that is not present in most other sports betting bills around the county.