In July, West Virginian government officials sat on a set of emergency rules for 18 days (July 9 – 21) to allow sports betting in the state in time for the NFL season. Despite this hiatus, the Governor’s Office did not make any changes to those rules. In fact, Governor Jim Justice at the time advocated “for adding integrity fees to be paid to professional sports leagues, event though the Legislature had soundly rejected such fees,” according to Phil Kabler of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Sportsbook lounges were also allowed to set up temporary locations for up to nine months before the next step, which was licensing casinos as well as other independent contractors to offer this service. For the licenses, they have an annual fee of $100,000. While physical, brick-and-mortar locations will be available for NFL betting come September, we shouldn’t expect mobile/online betting to happen by then.
It’s important for the state to do increased testing to ensure geo-location system(s) are working properly so that those only located in West Virginia can place wagers. Lottery counsel Danielle Boyd said that the Lottery was working with counterparts in Mississippi, Delaware, Nevada and and New Jersey to “enter into memoranda of understanding for integrity monitoring so that the states will share information about any unusual or suspicious sports betting activity.”
West Virginia has just a 10 percent tax on sports betting as opposed to Pennsylvania’s 36 percent rate as well as a $10 million licensing fee, making West Virginia a much easier location to house this product. However, earlier this week, West Virginia officials released the official set of rules for sports betting in the state to the public.
“The West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act gives the Lottery Commission the power to promulgate emergency rules setting up the sports betting system any time before Dec. 1, after which the agency will need to submit rules through the normal rule-making process,” according to Steven Allen Adams of the Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register.
“The Lottery’s emergency rules seem to provide a very thorough, thoughtful approach to ensure secure implementation of sports betting in West Virginia in a manner that also optimizes commercial opportunities and revenue generation,” said Delegate Shawn Fluharty of Ohio.
Now, casinos can submit requests to Lottery for “immediate commencement of sports pool or online sports pool operations,” per Adams. The license fee is still $100,000 and good for one year, but now casinos have 270 days to meet the rules or their permit can be pulled all together.
Casinos can now contract third-party app developers for their online/mobile wagering, but there must be systems in place—geo-location—to ensure bettors are within the confines of the state. A prime example is the Greenbrier Casino, who recently partnered with FanDuel as its vendor.
Annually, casinos will need to have “system integrity and a security assessment” prior to starting operations by an “independent professional.” Even with all of this, Justice is adamant about the integrity fee that would be paid toward the professional sport franchises. “The Justice administration may continue to push the fee…but no matter how many times they revisit it, they will continue to be met with the same unequivocal opposition from the Legislature and the citizens of West Virginia,” said Fluharty. “We are tired of out-of-state interests dipping into our state coffers and I will not stand for it,” he continued.
A complete and comprehensive report of the rules can be found here.