With Pennsylvania legalizing online gaming in late 2017, it is no surprise that other states are now coming forward to look at the possibility of offering casino and poker via the internet. One surprising state now in the mix is West Virginia. House Bill 3067 was introduced formally last week, set to pave the way for online gambling options in the state.
The efforts to see iGaming come to fruition in West Virginia are being led by Shawn Fluharty, a Democrat State Delegate. Last year, Fluharty stated that West Virginia needs to act, or they will be left behind as others pass such legislation. Pennsylvania passed online poker, slot and table games as well as sports betting and daily fantasy sports last year.
For West Virginia to stay in competition, they will need to act as neighboring states pass or begin considering legislation for iGaming. There are five casinos operating West Virginia, providing a base for online gaming if legislation is passed into law. In states that have legalized iGaming, land-based casinos partner with online operators to offer services. Because WV has a land-based industry, they are set up to get started with iGaming rather quickly if legislation were passed into law.
Within the last ten years, West Virginia has seen a flurry of competition in neighboring states. Three states that border West Virginia have around 30 casinos in operation. These casinos have been direct competitors to the gaming venues in the West Virginia and now with states beginning to look at iGaming, even more competition could be created.
For now, it is a waiting game to see if the legislation will move forward. Other states are considering online poker legislation this year, including Michigan and New York. It will be interesting to watch this year and see how many, if any, states pass online poker legislation into law.