Shawn Fluharty Sponsors West Virginia Online Gambling Bill

Shawn Fluharty Online Gambling Bill

Shawn Fluharty was successful in championing a sports betting bill without integrity fees, despite major pressure from NFL lobbyists.

West Virginia State Representative Shawn Fluharty introduced an online gambling bill to the legislature. In 2018, Rep. Fluharty sponsored the sports betting bill which was passed into law.

The bill includes provisions for online casinos and poker sites. With the momentum from the previous vote, Fluharty hopes to legalize online gambling in 2019.

To gain a license as an online gambling operator, an applicant must pay a $50,000 fee. The tax rate on iGaming is set at 14% of gross gaming revenues.

Any licensed land-based gaming facility in West Virginia would have the right to apply for an online gambling license. The state has five gaming facilities that qualify at present.

West Virginia Online Casino List

The list includes the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, which is owned by Penn National Gaming of Pennsylvania. Hollywood Casino near Herschey, Penn National’s flagship property, was licensed in Pennsylvania for sports betting and online gambling in 2018.

Three other land-based casinos — Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, Wheeling Island Hotel, and The Casino Club at The Greenbrier — all would have the right to apply for iGaming licenses. So would the lone racino in the state, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.

Lottery Commission to Oversee iGaming

Under provisions of Shawn Fluharty’s bill, the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) would oversee online gambling licensing and regulation. WVLC also has authority over the ongoing licensing process for sports betting.

Though it is one of the most conservative states in the Union, West Virginia’s lawmakers have approved considerable amounts of gambling over the past decade. VLTs are a mainstay in many of the bars, taverns, and restaurants across the Mountaineer State.

BetLucky Online Sports Betting App

The state, through the Lottery Commission, launched its own mobile sports betting app: BetLucky. The success of the BetLucky app could change the mind of many state legislators, who see the potential of intrastate online gambling.

The licensing fee is small enough that all 5 gaming venues are likely to seek a license. In neighboring Pennsylvania, the fee for an online casino and cardroom is $10 million — a whopping 200x the amount it is in West Virginia.

West Virginia Online Casino Software Companies

Of course, launching an online gaming portal incurs many expenses beyond the licensing fee. Most land-based casinos without a history in interactive betting sign a partnership with an online gambling software developer like 888, PokerStars, or Bwin.Party.

In Pennsylvania, Hollywood Casino uses IGT’s PlayCommand software for its online casino. The PlayCommand software platform features popular slots franchises like Wheel of Fortune®, Cleopatra®, Ocean Magic®, and Elephant King® slots. Penn National also licensed the PlayPoker and PlayBingo online software from IGT.

Given the nature of such partnerships, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Racetrack is likely to use the IGT PlayCommand software package. West Virginians should be able to play an online version of IGT’s Wheel of Fortune progressive slots within the year.