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West Virginia One Step Closer to Legalizing Online Gambling

West Virginia is on its way to expand its gaming services, and just recently, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act was cleared with ease during the first committee hearing. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee sent the bill towards its second committee stop.

Being one of the first states in the U.S to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down a law which banned gambling on sports events and activities in May 2018, it is highly likely that the bill will face very few obstacles.

If passed, the bill would allow the five casinos in the state to offer punters a full-scale online gambling service. This includes table games, slots, as well as online poker. Operators will be able to receive their license for $250,000 per piece, while the administration will be taken up by the West Virginia Lottery Commission. In addition, the bill also outlines penalties for unauthorized online operators who operate within the state.

The primary sponsor for the bill, Del. Jason Barrett has mentioned that he expects bipartisan support in both the chambers. Barrett added that the “iGaming legislation” seeks to allow land-based casino gaming to be conducted through electronic devices. He also said that if the bill is passed, the state can benefit through millions of dollars in revenue.

Lawmakers argue on tax amendment

Initially, the bill proposed a tax of 10 percent of online gambling revenue in the state, before this number was increased to 15 percent by the committee. However, several lawmakers are demanding an even higher hike.

One such legislator is Del. Tome Fast, who offered a change to the bill that could increase the numbers to a whopping 35 percent. He said that he believed this is the “bare-bones minimum.”

On the other hand, Del. Shawn Fluharty questioned the real reasons why other lawmakers wanted the tax amendment to the bill. He said that he believes the intent is not to raise a “tax that does not exist,” as this would only result in the legislation being killed if the numbers were actually raised to 35 percent. For reference, the online gambling revenue tax in Nevada is just 6.7 percent, while in New Jersey, the numbers stand at 15 percent.

The West Virginia legislature will be in session till March 9 this year, giving lawmakers very little time to come to decisions.

Source – Igaming world

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