West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Rule 179CSR9 found its way to the Secretary of State’s office on Monday.
The filing of the rules came after two months of delays and just two days before a deadline that could have derailed sports betting in West Virginia well into 2019.
The speculation is Gov. Jim Justice wanted to rewrite the rule to include an integrity fee to the major sports leagues. In the end, the administration allowed the rule to proceed as is.
Now that the rule-making process is moving forward, sports betting is on track to hit West Virginia in time for football season.
The race is now on to accept West Virginia’s first legal sports bet. Theoretically, casinos can begin taking bets in just a few days time.
“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.”
West Virginia’s emergency sports betting rule
The Lottery is now accepting license requests from casinos for the immediate launch of sports betting activity. A license will be valid for one year and will cost $100,000. Once approved, casinos will pay a moderate ten percent of their revenue in taxes. In the filing, the lottery estimates collecting $5.5 million from betting revenue in its first year.
The filing of the emergency rule also sets into motion a period of public comment. At the end, the final sports betting rules must go through the proper legislative rule-making process.
House Delegate Shawn Fluharty spoke about the emergency rule to the Intelligencer:
“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.”
The integrity monitoring system
The emergency rule discusses the specific requirements for operating a sportsbook at one of West Virginia’s casinos. As part of establishing a sportsbook, casinos are required to create an “integrity monitoring system.”
The system requires sportsbooks to collect and share data that would ferret out suspicious activity. Before launching sports betting operations, casinos must conduct an integrity and security assessment and continue to perform them annually.
According to the rules, casinos can partner with third-party platform providers to develop mobile sports betting. Mobile sports betting is limited to bettors located inside the West Virginia borders.
The rules also discuss sports betting system specifications, house rules and geolocation requirements.
GeoComply receives an interim license
On Wednesday, the West Virginia Lottery awarded GeoComply with an interim license to provide geolocation services for sports betting platforms.
Boyd issued the following statement in a press release:
“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.”
GeoComply, a leader in geolocation technology since 2011, currently provides services for legal and regulated gaming in 42 US states. It supports:
- Regulated online casinos
- Online poker rooms
- Legalized sports betting
- State lotteries
- Daily Fantasy Sports
David Briggs, CEO of GeoComply Solutions, is ready to help launch West Virginia sports betting.
“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.”
Rumors attribute integrity fees as the major delay
The Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee co-chairs sent a letter to Alan Larrick, executive director of the West Virginia Lottery. They requested that Larrick post the rules for public comment before Wednesday’s deadline.
The concern was that the Justice administration would withdraw the current emergency rule. The administration would then refile a new emergency rule that included integrity fee payments to the major professional sports leagues.
In March, Justice went on record saying he would seek to amend any law without an integrity fee to include payments to the leagues.
The House and Senate clearly rejected the idea of providing an integrity fee to the leagues in the new law.
John Cavacini, president of the West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association, expressed relief that the administration allowed the emergency rule to move forward. Cavacini believes that the filing signals the end of the integrity fee discussion.
Fluharty isn’t so sure and said as much:
“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.”
In the end, the emergency rules are in effect and casinos can apply for their license and begin formulating plans for their sportsbooks.
With geolocation services figured out and football season just around the corner, sports bettors can expect West Virginia’s ceremonial first sports bet soon. Stay tuned.