$16,000,000, that’s how much revenue West Virginia estimates it will make in the first year of legal sports betting. The Mountain State is one of only five in the nation right now that offers legal sports gambling, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle welcome the extra money.
“Well, I think sports betting is good all around for everything in West Virginia. And things that we can be more active and generate more revenue for people like education, veterans, and senior citizens,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.
“Sports betting is going to bring in a lot of money for our state. People have the freedom to do it. And even before it was allowed, people were doing it anyway,” said Del. John Higginbotham, (R) Putnam.
But now a new report from the American Gaming Association says major league sports will take in 4-Billion dollars in revenue in the first year of sports gaming nationwide. Originally Governor Justice and others were talking about a one-percent sports “integrity fee” that West Virginia would pay to the major leagues from the revenue. It’s an idea that’s met stiff resistance.
“The West Virginia Legislature looks at things that we only generate or push out revenue when it’s a benefit to West Virginians. And giving away money to the national and professional sports leagues isn’t a benefit to West Virginia,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.
“I can tell you as of right now I would not be supporting it, depending on the specifics,” said Del. Josh Higginbotham, (R) Putnam.
The West Virginia Lottery Commission nixed the integrity fee, even though the idea of paying the leagues could come up again, despite strong opposition.
“If you require a fee to maintain your integrity, I would have to call in your integrity, to begin with,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.
Individual casinos could negotiate an integrity fee with the sports leagues, without the state being involved.
Right now its a fair bet that nothing major will change on the sports betting legislation in West Virginia, at least not until the full legislature is back here for the 2019 session in January.