A sports betting bill in West Virginia would legalize gambling on events like esports and politics..

  • An expansion bill WV SB-788 would allow residents in West Virginia to gamble on political events, esports, and various other events.
  • Sports betting has been a legal activity since 2018 but the black market is still seeing activity within the state.
  • The sports betting market made over $19 million in revenue in 2019 for West Virginia.

CHARLESTON, W. Va.Legal sports betting in West Virginia has been active since 2018 and lawmakers would now like to expand into the betting on politics and esports markets.

Four Senate Committee members, Eric Tarr (R-Teas Valley), Mike Maroney (R-Marshall), Richard Lindsay (D- Charleston) and William Ihlenfeld (D-Ohio) have come together to sponsor bill WV SB-788 that would legalize a broad spectrum of events to be gambled on in West Virginia.

Political events, entertainment events, esports, and other non-specific happenings would be open to bet on under this bill.

WV SB-788

Bill WV SB-788 would be an expansion of legal gambling in the state of West Virginia. It calls for two amendments to the current law, WV SB-415. The amendments would include adding political election gambling and esports. Broadening the spectrum of currents sports betting rules is also included within the new bill.

“The Legislature finds that in order to protect residents of this state who wager on sports or other events and to capture revenues and create jobs generated from sports wagering, it is in the best interests of this state and its citizens to regulate this activity by authorizing and establishing a secure, responsible, fair, and legal system of sports wagering immediately, when the federal ban on sports wagering is lifted,” as is stated within the documents of WV SB-788.

Not only would the new bill allow for more options to legally bet on multiple events in West Virginia, but it would also call for more penalties toward anyone engaging in unlawful betting.

For the safety of the residents of the Mountain State, WV SB-788 requests to create a safe gambling environment for bettors through regulation and penalties.

“The Legislature finds that illegal sports wagering channels operating throughout the United States pose a critical threat to the safety and welfare of the citizens of West Virginia and that creating civil and criminal penalties to prosecute illegal operators, while transferring this black market demand into a secure and highly regulated environment, will protect the public and positively benefit state revenues and the state’s economy.”

While no specifics are described as to what elections may be gambled on or what events would be deemed legal for wagers, the bill has now set itself in motion to become more specific as it moves forward.

Despite the legalization of sports betting in West Virginia, sports bettors are still participating in illegal betting at bars and taverns that are not licensed sportsbooks.

The total handle from the sports betting market in 2019 for West Virginia was $226 million which came to $19.1 million in revenue. Had the betting at unlicensed venues not taken place, the state could have seen bigger returns.

WV SB -788 hopes to become a law where the Mountain State will be able to crack down on this type of gambling so that it will become more beneficial for the economy.

The new bill was introduced to the Legislature on February 14. The session in West Virginia ends on March 7. Lawmakers will need to work quickly if they wish to implement WV SB-788 in 2020.

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