WV Legislature debates integrity fees for sports betting

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A new report says legal sports gambling will generate billions for professional sports leagues. And some of that money will also wind up in the West Virginia treasury, but how much is debatable.

The American Gaming Association report says annual betting revenue to professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey leagues will top $4 billion per year. But those leagues also want the state to pay 1 percent of revenues in so-called “integrity fees.”

The Lottery Commission rejected that proposal so far, as do many on both sides of the aisle in the legislature:

“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 professinal 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. John Higginbotham, (R) Putnam.

“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.

The idea of a sports betting “integrity fee” is supported by Governor Justice. The legislature could revisit the issues when the annual session convenes at the capitol in January.

The leagues are free to negotiate their own deal directly with casinos.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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