The Supreme Court has not yet issued its decision regarding the federal prohibition on sports betting, but West Virginia isn’t waiting around. The Mountain State has now become the latest state to legalize sports betting within its borders.
In March, the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act was passed by the state’s House and Senate. Though Governor Jim Justice did not sign the bill, his signature was not required for the passage, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The release indicates that the Governor is still awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling before he moves forward. “After the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision on sports wagering, to address any provisions of the legislation that might be in conflict, I will ask the legislature to look at the advantages of partnering with the major sports leagues,” he wrote.
However, things may move faster than that. Already, West Virginia has become a battleground between states and sports leagues as the state legislature considers the Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association’s proposal to receive a 1 percent “integrity fee” on all sports betting transactions.
The MLB and the NBA maintain that a large portion of this proposed fee will go towards overseeing sports betting and keeping it honest and safe. But West Virginia Lottery General Counsel Danielle Boyd indicated in a statement that the state can do this on its own.
“We are committed to ensuring that we maintain the security and integrity of the lottery and that the casinos are committed to doing the same for the games that will be offered on their properties and via their mobile apps,” she said.
If the Supreme Court overturns the prohibition on sports betting, West Virginia’s law will allow legal sports betting within its borders in 90 days. If the legislature reaches a compromise with sports leagues before that time, this state law may present a possible model for moving forward for other states seeking to legalize sports betting.