West Virginia has officially become the fifth state in the United States to legalize online gambling thanks to a rather unexpected move by the state’s governor. The news of the new development came last Wednesday when House Bill 2934, otherwise referred to as the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act passed through Governor Jim Justice’s office without a veto. The inaction on the part of the governor thus resulted in the bill effectively becoming a law – not very usual, right? Well, maybe not for West Virginia since the governor has done something similar in recent past. Other states have not been so lucky. Case in point, in Michigan where there was so much optimism with regards to the online gaming bill, the turn of events was not expected with the state’s governor opting to veto the bill.
The bill managed to pass by a huge margin in both the West Virginia state House and the Senate before being sent to the Governor’s desk for approval on March 9. The governor’s desk was largely considered to be the only remaining obstacle in the way of the bill that is set to legalize online casinos and online poker within the state’s borders. From the date that the bill was forwarded to the governor (March 9), he had a total of 15 days to officially sign the bill into law or veto its – by failing to do this by the March 27 deadline, the measure would automatically become law.
The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act will now go into effect I the next 90 days from the day it was officially signed into law. This means that by West Virginians might be able to legally place online bets and play online poker sometime in June.
Is That It?
Unfortunately, the entire is a bit more complex than it may seem. While at the moment the bill has been able to pass all of the legal hurdles, it will take quite a bit of time before the state’s online gaming operators are able to offer their services to gamers in the state.
With the bill’s measures now considered to be laws in the state, the state’s five casinos will now be able to apply for interactive gaming licenses. These licenses will allow them to offer online casino games and online poker to any player who is over the age of 21.
As it stands, the new Wire Act opinion has complicated everything further. Therefore, online poker will be confined within the state’s borders – the hope for a shared liquidity poker pool that would include Pennsylvania and other state’s where online gaming has been legalized. Things might change by the time the online gambling industry finally goes live but do not hold your breath.