West Virginia senate committee advances sports betting bill

Despite strong opposition from lobbyists for US sports leagues MLB and NBA, the Senate Finance Committee in the West Virginia legislature has advanced SB415, a bill that would allow sports betting at the state's four casinos and at The Greenbrier under the jurisdiction of the state Lottery Commission.

The introduction of the new sports betting law is contingent on a favourable decision from the US Supreme Court in overturning the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

About 27 percent of the money generated by gaming would go to state casinos, with Finance Committee members told Monday the state would get about 30 cents out of every $10 bet on a sports game.

Lottery officials eventually hope to create a mobile phone app to allow players to bet on sports over their phones. They think two-thirds of all sports bets will eventually be placed using the apps, which are currently under development, according to Lottery Commission attorney Danielle Boyd.

Senators rejected arguments by sports leagues lobbyists against the proposed law, along with suggestions that gaming operators hand over 1 percent of wagers to said sports leagues as an “integrity fee”.

Proponents of Senate Bill 415 said they want to make black market sports gambling, which is already going on in the state, legal and consumer-safe.

Finance Committee chairman Sen. Craig Blair, said the bill would bring gambling money currently going into offshore online gambling sites back to West Virginia.

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