West Virginia Looks to Pennsylvania for iGaming Model
Following a meeting with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers (l.) said he’s encouraged the state is "headed in the right direction" regarding the implementation of online gaming. Myers said sports betting platforms already in place will help speed up the iGaming launch to 2021.
West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers and other agency officials recently met with representatives of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to learn about that state’s approach to online gambling.
Myers said he wanted to “visit some states that have that product so we can make sure we are doing it the right way.” Following the Pennsylvania meeting he said, “They are set up very similar to how we are. It’s kind of a relief. It gave us a little confidence that we’re headed in the right direction.”
West Virginia’s sports betting platforms, already in place, will help accelerate the launch of iGaming, Myers noted. “The initial build-out of the iGaming system, they can almost take the new games, which will come in a suite, and they can lay that right on top of a sports wagering-type of platform.” As a result, he said, iGaming “is not going to be as labor intensive or take as long to get out as sports wagering.”
Myers said he expects emergency rules to be filed by July 1 and online gaming to begin sometime in 2021.
The West Virginia legislature passed an iGaming measure last March. The bill gave the lottery more than a year to design and implement regulations at the state’s five casinos. The law requires casinos wishing to offer online gambling to pay a $250,000 application fee for five years and a renewal fee of $100,000. It requires online gamblers, like sports bettors, to be physically located in the state.
It taxes iGaming at 15 percent and sports wagering at 10 percent, “but with the number of people we have,” Myers said, “I expect the same revenue generation.” In Pennsylvania, online slots pay a 54 percent tax rate and online table games pay 16 percent.
According to state lottery figures, through the week ending on December 14, West Virginia’s sportsbooks handled $129.6 million in bets for fiscal year 2020, which began July 1; they generated more than $12.3 million in revenue, with $1.2 million in state tax revenue.
Online sports betting launched in West Virginia in late August. The two available mobile apps, FanDuel and DraftKings, reported a handle of $49.9 million, claiming 76 percent of all sports bets placed in the state since late August. DraftKings holds a 56.4 percent share of the West Virginia mobile sports betting market.