West Virginia’s Governor Approves Online Gambling

West Virginia is officially getting its own legal online casinos, following multi-lateral support for the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act approved by the House, Senate, and the Governor himself.

  • West Virginia online bill receives endorsement by state Gov. Jim Justice
  • H 2934 passed final legislature approval on March 9
  • Online poker will be featured as part of the activities allowed in the state

West Virginia Successfully Passing Bill

West Virginia made a very determined entry into the online casino industry. At first, it was just a bill. H 2934 landed in the House of Representative in February under a friendlier name, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, and cleared it without a hitch.

Then came the vote in the Senate, with Senators throwing their near-unanimous support for a future online gambling industry.

Then, everyone had to wait for Gov. Jim Justice.

Governors have been unlikely disruptors in recent years, shooting bills down long after the toughest bit – passing a legislation through the House and Senate, has taken place.

Mr. Justice decided not to veto the bill and chose to endorse it a bit, giving the state a reason for hoping that West Virginia will see its first online casinos open doors for netizens very soon. So far, there are five properties where online casinos can operate from, including:

  • Hollywood Casino, Charles Town Races
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resorts
  • The Casino Club, The Greenbrier
  • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel

All properties have said that they will pay up or a casino license and also foot a renewal fee every year to the tune of $100,000. A license to run online casino costs $250,000, but there are other associated costs.

Another $100,000 will have to go for maintaining the online platform, not to mention that suppliers will also need to obtain a license with each costing $10,000.

Readying to Launch Online Casinos in West Virginia

Online casinos will probably not arrive until 2020 in the state, though this is just a preliminary estimate. Some hope that we can see an early launch in December, much like was the case with the sports betting industry in the state.

Next year is realistic, though, given the current challenges, such as logistics, signing partnerships, and not least of all the Wire Act that the Department of Justice want to champion at the expenses of online gambling activities.

In other places, such as Virginia, the state won’t see its first online casinos open until July 2020, and this is a fairly aggressive timeline. Virginia got an approval last week, so it’s very likely that West Virginia didn’t want to be behind.

It’s also interesting to watch how the process unfolds. In Virginia, for example, the Lottery Board (which will be regulating the new industry) has requested a special report that will asses how other states regulate and approach online gambling.

West Virginia has announced no such plans, but the bill is just fresh out of the oven.

Aran Malik

“Magic Malik”—as we like to call him—is not only a tech whiz but a wizard when it comes to getting obscure news hot off the press so we know exactly what’s happening and can explore and report it back to our growing and loyal readerbase.

Virginia Needs a Signature to Legalize Online Gambling

Virginia is one signature away from giving an initial go-ahead to its online gambling industry. Even if the governor approves the bill, it will take the state’s regulator and lawmakers over a year to set up the first casinos.

SB 1126 – One Signature Away from Becoming a Law

The year started off well for Virginia. In January, 2019, the Virginia Senate General Laws and Technology Committee gave its approval to a bill that would allow online casinos to open doors in the state.

The few months since, SB 1126 has made quite the headway and today it’s perched at the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam who should decide its faith. Mr. Northam is rather non-descript when it comes to online gambling – he hasn’t been against it publicly nor has he said that he endorses it.

With his signature now needed by March 26, everyone’s on pin and needles whether the Governor would grant his approval.

A Great Future for Online Gambling: Virginia’s Regulated Industry

Virginia is one of the states where the proposed legal draft is quite specific as to where online casinos can operate in the first place. With the Virginia Lottery Board taking over regulation, there are quite a few specifics that candidates would have to meet, including:

  • Choosing a city with a specific poverty level;
  • A population of over 200,000 and a population decline of over 4% over a specific period;
  • Pre-determined unemployment rates for specific months and years.

Virginia will also initiate a series of city-based referendums where the people will have to decide whether they want to give their go-ahead for casinos.

Virginia is one of the most complicated states to navigate when it comes to passing online gambling, not only in terms of mustering up the legal support, but also making sure that eligible cities exist and that locals will in fact endorse such an initiative.

Casinos on the Clock in Virginia

There’s plenty of reasons to be excited – online gambling and poker are coming to Virginia. However, there are a handful of constraints that the Virginia Lottery Board, the body that would be overseeing the industry, would need to comply with.

For starters, any casino that wants to operate in the state would need to successfully pass a city referendum by January 2021.

The Lottery Board will have to prepare an initial working version of the draft by January 2020 and all regulation must be finalized by June 2020. The first license in the state cannot be issued prior to July 1, 2020.

Virginia – A Promising Endeavor for Online Gambling

Virginia may come with its own whimsical sides, but the online gambling and online poker industries here have a very good chance of taking root. SB 1126 will give a chance to one of the United States’ largest states to introduce online gambling en masse.

Virginia will also exercise a somewhat closer control over its casinos which means that all properties will be introduced strategically across the state for maximum efficiency.

Sophia Rojas

Growing up around law firms, Sophia keeps our team of reporters atop any legislative developments to follow up with a welcomed dose of positive news as our house trivia nut!

New York Will Try Again for Poker Legislation

New York may be looking at a future in which online poker is legalized. Having found a new backer for its cause, the state will now rely on Senator Joseph Addabbo to drive a stake through the heart of the opposition.

New York Takes a Step Closer to Legalized Online Poke

Senator Joseph Addabbo is the new face of hope for online poker in New York. The senator has introduced a new bill by the name of S.00018, a document outlining the future of the legalized industry. In the document, the senator has laid bare multiply provisions that address specific points:

  • Taxation & license application
  • Treatment of the so-called “bad actors” and their affiliates
  • Available licenses

One particular advantage of the S.00018 is that it cites the case of the United States v. DiCristina, which looks into violations of the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), clearing the defendant of any fault.

In other words, DiCristina’s case establishes the credibility of poker as a “game of skill”, which is exactly what Senate Bill 18 is stating. As a result, Senator Addabbo is going to save himself the trouble of arguing about the nature of the game.

The focus will remain on establishing the legal groundwork so that customers are protected, which is a topic that seems to be easier to garner support for.

Not Everyone Is a Winner

Even though the bill is good news, not everyone is likely to be a winner. The text of the bill specifies that parties that have been complicit with offering online poker services to New York citizens in the past may be classified as “bad actors“. The same applies to any party that has facilitated the activities of these so-called “bad actors”.

Put simply, a bad actor is a card room that has been offering services without proper licensing. The result could be a ban on these brands once (and if) licenses become available.

The Specifics of Online Poke in New York

The bill seems to have been well-written covering all potential questions that may arise from the idea of legalizing online poker. Apart from citing evidence that poker is indeed a game of skill, the bill gives the specifics of the industry itself:

  • Each individual license will cost $10 million
  • Only 11 licenses in total will be available
  • All operators will be taxed at 15% of their gross gaming revenue
  • The first two months of taxation will be included in the license fee

As outlined by the bill, the industry seems to be favourable to consumers and businesses both. However, Mr. Addabbo is facing a tough passage not in the Senate, but in the Assembly.

The Assembly has been the major pitfall sponsors have so far been unable to overcome. In 2018, Clyde Vanel and J. Gary Pretlow promised to back a bill, which foundered, because Mr. Pretlow decided not to seek the votes necessary for the bill to clear.

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.

Michigan Governor to Sign and Legalize Poker, Gambling

  • Michigan awaits the approval of Governor Rick Snyder to sign House Bill 4926 into law
  • The state will see 8% tax on the gross gaming revenue
  • Operators will pay $200,000 for five-year license
  • Michigan is most likely going to pool its prize pools with the four other states where gambling is legal

Michigan lawmakers have agreed to push ahead with the legalization of online gambling in the state. House Bill 4926 managed to clear the House after it had been amended by the Senate one last time, clearing the floor in the small hours of the morning.

Michigan Clears House Bill 4926, Online Gambling Follows

Earlier in December, Michigan saw House Bill 4926 dropped in the Senate for the first time, spearheaded by Brandt Iden, and championed by Senator Mike Kowall whose stint is nearly over. Not many people expected that the Senate would actually get to the point where they were ready to act. Even less so, nobody thought that the House would actually pass a quick vote before 2019. But they did, defying all expectations.

DOJ Could Consider Flip-Flopping on Its 2011 Decision

And now that the Senate and the House of Representatives of Michigan have both cleared the bill, all that is necessary is for Governor Rick Snyder to step up and put his signature on the document. When he does, Michigan will be joining four other states in offering poker, sports betting, and casino games online:

  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania

The House managed to pass the bill with 71 votes backing the document and 35 opposing it. With what could be called an overwhelming support, Michigan’s Gaming Board will now be tasked with exercising control over the future operators as well as settling the legal side of things.

Following the previous successes in June, 2018, this is the most significant success for the iGaming industry in Michigan.

Licensing and Distributing the Tax Money

Licenses will cost $200,000 and be issued for a five-period, with a renewal fee at the due date of $100,000. After that period, $100,000 will apply for each subsequent year. Any interested operator can apply for a variety of options, including:

  • Casino
  • Poker rooms
  • Sports betting

With an overall tax of 8% of the gaming revenue, whatever the specific activity of the operator, Michigan will apply additionally 1.25% on commercial casinos. The extra tax is described as a “municipal fee” which will go directly to the city that is hosting the casino.

As to the tax money itself, it will go to various recipients from the state:

  • Michigan itself will get 55% for its Internet Gaming Fund
  • The Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund will get $1 million in the very least
  • The Pension and School Funds will get 5% of the gross revenue in funding money
  • 30% will go directly to improve the urban environment in the cities hosting casinos

The bill has been long debated but now it has passed, it would help Michigan join the four states already having passed such legislation. There will be a 15-month grace period during which tribal operators and commercial casinos will have to procure their licenses and prepare for a synchronized launch.

The synchronized launch will allow all operators to step into the industry with equal chances of success, rather than the state allowing individual operators to go ahead and effectively stifling competition before the activity had begun.

Kat Orlov

Newcomer Kat is our newcomer poker aficionado whos skill not only lives on the table but flourishes on the site as through her many sources she never fails to be the first to hear of any important or exciting poker news around the world.

Three Online Casino Licenses Awarded in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, things are quickly moving along when it comes to online gaming legislation. Last month was the deadline for operators to submit their online casino applications, and three have already been approved. Mount Airy, Parx and Harrah’s are now the first three venues that have earned approval to operate online gaming activities for players across the state.

Teaming Up With Big Online Gaming Brands

Since none of the Pennsylvania casinos have experience with operating online casinos, they have partnered with other companies to ensure that they can provide local players with quality products. The casino partners will also have to be vetted by Pennsylvania’s gaming authorities to ensure that they are trustworthy and reputable companies.

Parx Casino is working with GAN, a UK-based casino operator that is known for its gaming sites across Europe. The company has plenty of experience in creating online casino games and slots, but has yet to make a big name for itself in the poker world. Consider that Parx is the biggest poker room in Pennsylvania, this will be a great opportunity for GAN to work on its online poker products.

Mount Airy will be teaming up with The Stars Group, which is a full-service online gaming operator. The Stars Group runs online poker, online casino games and online sports betting activities. Together, Mount Airy and The Stars Group will launch PokerStars PA, a gaming site that offers a wide range of gaming products to players across the state.

While Harrah’s has yet to announce its online gaming partner, it is likely that its online poker room will be run by the World Series of Poker. This has been speculated by gaming industry experts, as Harrah’s is associated with Caesars, which runs the WSOP.

With so many big brands entering Pennsylvania’s online gaming market, there is surely going to be some steep competition – and, there are still six more licenses to be granted! Players across the state will definitely be spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding where to play online casino games.

A Boon to the Local Economy

The opening up to Pennsylvania’s online casino market will be a huge benefit to the local economy. Not only will it create jobs but it will also generate valuable tax revenue for the state. In fact, it even has the potential to boost the existing land based market, as evidenced by Atlantic City.

Online gaming in Pennsylvania is sure to be a success, and it will be interesting to see how the remaining six operators decide to partner up. There will certainly be several more international online gaming operators dipping their toes into the American market.

 

Grant Mahon

Grant is the self-professed casino madman and reporter that brought this eclectic team of dedicated and talented writers together from around the world to proudly build an humble empire of authentic casino news.