Legislator Thinks West Virginia Sports Betting Tax Rate Is Too Low

Posted on January 29, 2019

It appeared that West Virginia was in a great spot when it came to legalized sports betting. The state passed the necessary laws and regulations, launched new WV sportsbooks at established casinos and began to implement mobile sports betting.

Currently, there are six sports betting options in the Mountain State. They are:

WV sports betting has grown, and it is getting stronger every day. With revenue finally starting to flow in, one would have thought it was a time to celebrate.

Wrong.

Now that the money is becoming more tangible, some feel like West Virginia has made a big mistake by only taking a 10 percent tax on sports betting.

Legislators landed on a 10 percent tax last year while drawing up the bill due in large part to the advice of consultants. They wanted the figure to be low enough to compete with casinos in nearby states and to lure gamblers away from unregulated offshore sportsbooks.

Is the WV sports betting tax too low?

State Lottery Director John Myers told senators last week that the Lottery doesn’t have enough financial data right now to determine exactly what the state’s piece of the revenue will be.

All five WV land-based casinos have sportsbooks. However, only Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island have launched an online sportsbook so far. Several other mobile apps including DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are looking to debut in WV early in 2019.

Without all the potential sportsbooks generating income, Myers could only give a rough estimation of between $2 million and $5 million of revenue for the year.

It’s difficult to say if West Virginia made a mistake when settling on the 10 percent tax, but Sen. Michael Maroney made it clear he’s disappointed in the figure.

Maroney said:

“I still think we gave this away,” adding, “I think the numbers are going to show we left of lot of money on the table that went into pockets of Delaware North and Penn National, and whoever owns Mountaineer and whoever owns The Greenbrier.”

Comparing WV sports betting tax

The senator’s frustrations are mostly based around the fact that WV’s sports betting tax is on the low end in comparison with other states.

In Delaware, the state receives 50 percent of the revenue. Rhode Island has a 51 percent tax. Pennsylvania’s state tax is 36 percent.

West Virginia’s 10 percent rate is only higher than Las Vegas’ 6.75 percent, Mississippi’s eight percent and New Jersey’s land-based rate of 8.5 percent. New Jersey takes closer to 14 percent for online sports betting revenue.

Of course remaining competitive in an emerging space is crucial, but not getting a fair share of the deal can be even more significant.

WV seems to be locked into their current tax rate for the time being, but perhaps as sports betting continues to build, Maroney and other legislators could join forces in requiring a larger take for the state.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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