Lottery officials in the state of West Virginia are telling state lawmakers that they could have regulated sports betting in place within 90 days of a favorable ruling from the US Supreme Court. Their eagerness to introduce sports books to the state’s five casinos is in indication of how desperately many state governments are to get a piece of the massive new tax revenues regulated sports betting will likely bring to their states.
Earlier this month, West Virginia lawmakers passed SB 415, which allows the state’s casinos to offer sports betting services, should the Supreme Court overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. That decision could come as early as April 2, which is the next time the court will be issuing opinions.
In an interview with the West Virginia News, Lottery Director Alan Larrick expressed optimism about getting sports betting up and running in the state saying:
In a perfect world, we could hopefully be up and running by late summer…We’re really looking forward to working with our partner casinos. I think we’ve really gotten ahead of the curve. We’re out there first.
Unlike neighboring Pennsylvania, for example, West Virginia is making sports betting licenses relatively easy for casinos to obtain and is only charging $100,000 for a sports betting license and a ten percent tax on revenue. Pennsylvania casinos need to pay $10 million for the license and a 36 percent tax. So far, no Keystone State casinos have applied for a license.
Larrick is hoping the WV governor will call a special session of the State Legislature when/if the Supreme Court rules favorably. At that time, lawmakers would work out how to answer professional sports leagues’ calls for a one percent “integrity fee” to help cover the costs of keeping sports betting from ruining the pristine reputations of well-loved organizations like the NFL.