West Virginia Legalizes Online Gambling and Poker

West Virginia is now the fifth state in the United States to have given the green light for an online gambling industry. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, become a law 15 days (excluding Sundays) after it was forwarded to the desk of the governor who ended up not signing it by the March 27 deadline. According to West Virginia state laws, any bill not signed into law or vetoed by the governor within a given set period is automatically passed to law.

While there were some concerns that Governor Jim Justice would veto the online gambling bill in the same manner that Michigan’s governor did, but after deeper insight into the matter revealed quite a number of reasons why online gambling in the state is here to stay. First, one of the supposed reasons why the governor chose not to veto the bill is because of his family’s ties to the ownership of a West Virginian casino. In essence, this means that by heartily signing the bill into law, the governor would have probably implicated himself as the move would have the appearance of impropriety.

Regardless, the news that online gambling and poker will be coming to West Virginia is still great news for gamers in the state who have had to deal with underground, unregulated and illegal gaming sites. Sports betting is a vital component of the bill and now West Virginia is officially the third state in the country – behind Pennsylvania and New Jersey – to have a legalized mobile and online sports betting.

That said, the state’s five casinos, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races; Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort; The Casino Club at The Greenbrier; Mardi Gras Casino & Resort; and Wheeling Island Hotel are now allowed to forward their interactive gaming license applications to the West Virginia Lottery, which will be in charge of the interactive gaming sector. These licenses will be going for $250,000 apiece and will be renewed every five years for $100,000. Also, the online gaming operators will be required to pay a 15 percent tax on all their online gaming revenue. The industry’s platform and service providers, on the other hand, will be required to pay $100,000 for their licenses.

When Can West Virginians Expect to Begin Gambling

As it stands, the West Virginia Lottery has until June 2020 to finalize on crafting a suitable framework and gaming regulations and it is likely that the soonest time that the interactive gaming operations will go live in the state will be after that. Still, it might be totally worth as the operators will have sufficient time to get ready.

Besides that, there is also the issue of the recent reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act which makes it apply to all forms of online gaming and not just sports betting. The law has the potential to cripple a lot of vital aspects of the gaming industry including the multi-state share liquidity pools that would have been very beneficial to West Virginia especially considering its considerably small population.

Slovakian President Vetoes new Gambling Legislation

A little over three weeks ago, Slovakian legislators approved plans to get rid of the local online monopoly, something that would result in a major shakeup of the country’s online gambling market. The new regime had even planned to begin accepting applications for online casino licenses by March 1, 2019, after which license approvals would be issued as from July 1, 2019. There were also plans to start accepting online sports betting license applications after which the licenses would take effect on July 1, 2020. Online casino and online sports betting licenses would cause operators €3m apiece but operators who interested in offering both products stood a chance of saving a third of the fee by signaling their interest in applying for both.

Unfortunately, as promising as these plans seemed to be for both the international gaming operators and the country, the Slovakian president moved to veto the new gambling regime that would have effectively opened up the online market to international operators for the very first time in the country’s history. In a statement that was issued on Friday, Andrej Kiska, the President of Slovakia said that he had refused to approve the online gaming regulations that were issued by the country’s Ministry of Finance after being approved by the legislature earlier this month.

Not Up to Standard

According to President Andrej Kriska, the proposed gambling rules and regulations contained insufficient consumer protection measures. For instance, the president wants that everyone who has been declared bankrupt to be included in the country’s national gambling exclusion registry.

President Kriska was also not impressed because of the faults he found within the legislation’s requirement that all online gamblers submit digital copies of there Citizen’s Cards for identity verification. In his opinion there needed to be “a better way of demonstrating the eligibility to play gambling that would not pose a risk for the protection of sensitive and misleading personal data.”

Furthermore, the legislation failed to specify how the gambling revenues would be spent by the government – Kiska wants the lawmakers to return to the drawing board with a plan which directly links gambling taxes and fees to funding problem gambling programs in Slovakia. In addition to all that, Kriska wants the lawmakers to grant the local governments a bit more authority in determining what type of gambling would be allowed within their respective municipalities. Case in point, the rejected bill prevented the gaming operators from setting up facilities near schools but the president wants this to be extended so that it includes “places designed to express religious, moral and other personally sensitive attitudes, such as churches or institutions.”

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