Two recent gambling bills proposed in West Virginia are making promising strides. Both the online gambling bill and the satellite casinos bill have passed their most recent tests and are looking optimistic moving forward.
H 2934 would allow online gambling to become legal within the Mountain State. Of course, WV sports betting is already legal, but this bill would permit all casino gambling including slots, blackjack, poker, and other table games.
The House passed the bill with by a vote of 72-22, sending it to the Senate where it has bipartisan support.
The other bill, H 2901, allows each of the state’s four racetracks to open satellite casino locations within the same county.
The House also passed this bill on Friday by a vote of 87-8. It, too, heads to the Senate where it is likely to pass on to the governor’s desk.
WV online gambling bill
The new online gambling bill, or the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, is headed by Del. Jason Barrett, along with 10 other cosponsors.
If passed, each of the five land-based WV casinos in the state would be able to provide an online casino to its customers.
The five WV casinos who would be eligible to offer online gambling are:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
Currently, only two of the five casinos have online sports betting. More online sportsbooks are likely to launch soon.
Since legal sports betting has proven to be profitable, Barrett sees the same sort of potential with online casino betting.
“With our iGaming legislation, we seek once again to lead the charge by permitting traditional land-based casino gaming to be conducted via electronic devices. If passed, iGaming has the potential to bring millions of dollars in revenue to our state.”
The only aspect of the bill that caused concern was determining how much would be taxed on online gambling. The initial proposal was set at 10 percent, however, some lawmakers were pushing for as high as 35 percent of the revenue. It passed with a 15-percent tax rate.
It is likely the bill will sail through the Senate before reaching Gov. Jim Justice for the final step.
WV satellite casino bill
The four racetracks that would be able to expand are:
- Hollywood Casino
- Mountaineer Casino
- Mardi Gras Casino
- Wheeling Island Hotel
The Greenbrier is the only casino in the state not included because of its lack of horse or greyhound racing.
Currently, each of the casinos hosts a sportsbook. Each of the satellites will include multiple ways to gamble, just no racetrack or hotel. Table games, slots, simulcast racing, along with sports betting will most likely be offered at every location.
Del. Erikka Storch is the lead sponsor for the bill. Her main objective is to pass the bill so that Wheeling Island can open a satellite location to overcome some obstacles it’s facing. Annual flooding, as well as construction on nearby interstates, may potentially cause Wheeling Island to lose business.
“We’re just trying to get in front of the construction and avoid loss of revenues. We just want to give them some flexibility and some visibility.”
The Finance committee amended the initial bill, stating that pari-mutuel betting would be allowed on simulcast racing.
It also says that the original racetrack location will be given its due share of funding from the satellite for table games and slots. Any excess revenue beyond the guaranteed share would be divided between the municipalities.
Both bills have bipartisan support and passage seems likely. The current West Virginia legislative session ends on March 9. The clock is ticking.