After more than 60 days having passed and with less than 48 hours left the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Rule 179CSR9 was finally filed with the office of the Secretary of State. If this deadline was missed, which many expected it to be, West Virginia sports betting would have effectively have been put on hold far into 2019.
The rumor is that Governor Jim Justice was pushing for changes to the rules that would have seen them include what has rather diplomatically been called an “integrity fee”, which would be paid to the major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, etc). However, the administration chose to stand fast and the rule was passed as is.
Now that the legislators have had their say, the wheels are back in motion with the aim of getting West Virginia sports betting rolling in time in football season, a peak period for sports betting and the ideal time to launch West Virginia sports betting to the public.
We now wait with baited breath to hear who will place, and more importantly, take the first wager in West Virginia sports betting history. Technically those casinos with sportsbooks can starts accepting bets in a matter of days.
“If they [casinos] were ready to open today and they had all their systems in place, we would certainly have to do some testing, but we would be ready to take bets as that testing would conclude. If it’s the on-property testing, we anticipate that will anticipate only a few days to complete.”
Danielle Boyd – Managing Legal Counsel for the West Virginia Lottery
The Emergency Rule Of West Virginia Sports Betting
With the launch of West Virginia sports betting imminent, the license lottery has begun and is accepting requests for licenses. Valid for a single year and with a price tag of $100,000, those who are awarded license will only have pay a rather low tax that will equate to just 10% of their total revenue. Through various studies, the lottery expects a first year earning of around $5,500,000 through this tax.
Once the emergency rule came into play, it opened the process up to public commentary over a specific period of time. But thereafter, the approved rules must then pass though the appropriate channels before we have can have the official rules for West Virginia sports betting.
“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.”
Shawn Fluharty – House Delegate
Rules Declares Integrity Is Required For Sports Betting
Essentially what the emergency rules covers is what is needed for a West Virginia casino to run a sportsbook. One of the requirements is that the casinos must setup what is known as an Integrity Monitoring System.
What this rather draconian terms actually means in the context of West Virginia sports betting is that the sportsbook is required to collect and then share the collected data with what would essentially be auditors who would go through all the records with a fine tooth comb looking for any dodgy dealings. Before the sportsbook can even be launched, the casino must conduct the first security and integrity assessment. This will then have to be performed on an annual basis every year thereafter.
Thanks to the rules relating to West Virginia sports betting, casinos may choose to partner with outside parties who would then provide a platform that can be used in the creation of mobile sports betting. Only those placing bets within the state borders of West Virginia will qualify as mobile sports betting.
Fresh of the success of a rather impressive month in New Jersey, FanDuel’s march towards dominance sports betting continues thanks to news they plan to team up with The Casino Club at The Greenbrier to create the FanDuel Sportsbook.
The emergency rules also cover the specs of the system sports betting will use along with house rules in relation to the location of the relevant sportsbook.
Interim License Granted To Geocomply
GeoComply recently received an interim license allowing them to offer their Geo-location services for the various West Virginia sports betting platforms. One of the first partnerships they managed to secure was with Boyd Gaming, who issued this statement:
“We are really pleased to have GeoComply as our first sports wagering supplier to be approved in West Virginia. With the recent repeal of PASPA, we have set a very aggressive timeline for introducing sports wagering in the state, and are happy to have GeoComply show its readiness to support our launch in time for the new NFL season.”
Since 2011 GeoComply have been known as the leading name when it comes Geo-location tech. As of August 2018, they have provided their services to regulated gambling in 42 states. They offer support to:
- Legal online casinos
- Online poker rooms
- Regulated sports betting
- State lotteries and
- Daily Fantasy Sports
“West Virginia has been very proactive in their goal to become among the first states to introduce legal online sports wagering and we are grateful for the support they have shown us in the licensing process. We are now ready to supply compliance-grade geolocation solutions to the local operators and partners in West Virginia to get online sports wagering up and running in the state.”
David Briggs – CEO of GeoComply Solutions
Delay In Sports Betting Laid At The Feet Of Integrity Fees
Alan Larrick, the Executive Director of West Virginia Lottery received a stern letter from the co-chairs of the Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee. In this letter they asked that Larrick meet the deadline and post the rules so it could be subject to public comment.
Many felt that there was a strong likelihood that the emergency rules would be repealed by the West Virginia Justice Administrator. They believed that the administration would then submit a new set of rules which include the hotly contested subject of integrity fees, something that many view as a legalized bribe paid to the professional sports leagues to get their approval of West Virginia sports betting.
A few months back Justice was quoted as saying that he would look to make changes to law that did not incorporate integrity fees to the various leagues. Unfortunately for Justice, both the House and the Senate stonewalled the ideas of integrity fees.
Now that the administration have insisted that the emergency rule go forward John Cavacini, West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association President, admitted to feeling a sense of relief and is convinced it brings the whole topic of integrity fees to an end. However, not everyone is as confident as Cavacini, with Fluharty being quoted as saying:
“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. We are tired of out-of-state interests dipping into our state coffers, and I will not stand for it.”
Shawn Fluharty – House Delegate
Feelings and hunches aside, the emergency rules are in place, the licensing lottery has started and the casinos and their strategic partners are well into developing plans to help them dominate West Virginia sports betting. And now that the Geo-location services operator has been put in place, and the kickoff to football season fast approaching the very first bet in West Virginia sports betting cannot be far off!