The dream of regulated online poker in West Virginia is a step closer to being a reality. An online gaming bill just cleared its first significant stumbling block.
House Bill 2934 – the West Virginia Lottery Wagering Act was introduced on 17th February. The bill will, if passed in its entirety, allow casinos in the state to offer table games such as roulette, blackjack, slots and most importantly, online poker. This will be in addition to their current offerings.
Virginia is one of the 8 states that have already legalized sports betting in the U.S. If they move with the same pace, the bill is likely to sail through all the remaining hurdles.
On 19th February, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to pass the proposed bill. As a result, the bill was pushed to the House of Representatives for a full vote.
The West Virginia casino bill particulars
From the fine print, only 5 casinos will be allowed to offer tables games over the internet.
The bill also proposes operating licenses to be offered for a $250,000 fee.
On matters regulation, new laws will be introduced to rein in rogue gaming operators in the state.
In addition, the West Virginia Lottery Commission will be the regulatory body overseeing the online operators.
Finally, the casinos will be taxed 15 percent of their total revenues from online gaming.
However, the tax-rate was contested, with delegate Tom Fast suggesting that tax is increased to 35%. However, no one supported his suggestion.
According to Online Poker Report, Delegate Shown Fluharty commented that raising the tax to 35% will just end up killing the bill.
At the end of the session, the delegates agreed the would-be tax to remain 15%.
Race against time
With the hardest hurdle already out of the way, only a “bad beat” can stop the legislation, according to Fluharty. Keeping in mind that the legislative session ends on March 9, the bill has a little over 2 weeks.
However, there’s no reason to worry. West Virginia lawmakers have been progressive on matters gaming especially after classifying poker as a game of skill in 2017.
If the House of Representatives manage to vote for the bill before the legislative session wraps, the bill, Interactive Wagering Act, will be forwarded to the state governor, Jim Justice, for the final signature.
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