Shawn Fluharty Deposits Poker & Gaming Bill in West Virginia

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Shawn Fluharty speaking in front of legislators.
Shawn Fluharty seeks to legalize online poker and gaming in West Virginia. Photo credit: Linkedin
  • Republican Shawn Fluharty pushes ahead with bill that seeks to legalize online poker and gaming
  • Licenses would cost $50,000 and casinos will pay 14% of GGR
  • The WV Lottery Commission will be the supervisory body in the state

West Virginia has delivered a new bill intended at the legalization of online casinos and card rooms. The state successfully passed a sports betting bill in 2018, leading to the launch of West Virginia’s industry.

West Virginia’s First Online Casino & Poker Bill

West Virginia has had a successful run at legalizing sportsbooks. So far, the state has five venues where wagers are accepted and in the case of BetLucky, residents of the state can even benefit from mobile betting.

Now, WV is pushing ahead with new plans to open up its market for online gaming as well. The potential windfall of such a move is substantial from a purely financial standpoint, with the licenses per operator costing $50,000 and taxation established at 14% of gross gaming revenue (GGR), as per the bill.

Michigan, another state, deliberating the legalization of its industry, sees in online poker & gaming an opportunity to add a plump sum of money to the state’s coffers.

Rep. Shawn Fluharty has deposited an official bill (House Bill 2178) that outlines the potential future of a legalized online poker and gaming industry in West Virginia. The bill covers multiple areas, including licensing, taxing, applicable gaming facility laws, as well as drawing the line between legal and illegal gaming.

The bill states that only licensed property (presently offering lotteries & table games) can apply for a license, which includes:

  • Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
  • The Casino Club at the Greenbrier
  • Mardi Gras Casino and Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel

A small wrinkle excludes some of operators, making all facilities that didn’t have a license obtained from the Racing Commission prior to January 1, 1994 non-eligible to offer their services. It could be a way to avoid applications from offshore companies and a way to simplify the popular “bad actor” provision.

Discussing taxation specifically, West Virginia will collect tax money on weekly basis, with money being paid to the authorized department for the previous week of gaming operations.

It’ll be up to the WV Lottery Commission to establish control over the segment as well as seek to introduce the regulator norms.

A Good Sign for Poker Indeed

The bill openly cites the potential benefits from adding poker to the list of existing gaming operations:

Developments in technology and recent legal decisions have created an opportunity to legalize interactive poker as a means to further enhance and complement the benefits delivered by casino gaming and licensed facilities to or for the benefit of the communities in which they operate.

If West Virginia is successful, it can be joining the handful of other states that share liquidity and offer online poker activities, including:

  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania

Other states, including Michigan and Kentucky are debating the legalization of their industries. In the case of Michigan, a bill has already been going through the motions.

Developing.

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