West Virginia Moves Forward to Sports Betting Without ‘Integrity’ Fees
The advent of regulated sports betting in the United States has been a very tough haul for America professional sports leagues. After all, they spent decades warning the world about the dangers of legal wagering, and ultimately no one listened. But now that sports betting is legal, they’re eager to get a piece of the action, but no one seems to be buying what they’re selling.
This dynamic has held particularly true in West Virginia where the state’s Governor, Jim Justice (R), intervened on their behalf in a desperate attempt to institute the leagues’ highly unpopular integrity fees but still came out losers.
Earlier this week, the West Virginia Lottery Commission gave its stamp of approval to the regulations that will govern sports betting in the state, and they did so without instituting integrity fees. In its decision to move forward without providing the leagues with a pound of flesh, the Commission bucked the wishes of the Governor, whose close ties with professional sports leagues, including the PGA, were questioned.
The controversy surrounding the Governor’s insistence on integrity fees, he even called an emergency legislative session after the first set of regulations was approved, caused the state’s then head of the Lottery Commission to resign. He was replaced with the Governor’s hand-picked man, John Myers, who told reporters, “Integrity is not a four-letter word.”
Despite the lack of integrity fees in the new rules, professional sports leagues may yet see a bit of action in West Virginia. Local casinos are still negotiating with them for use of data streams that fuel live betting programs.
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