A top gaming official in West Virginia says that online poker could be up and running as soon as next month.
The West Virginia Lottery Commission approved emergency rules for online gaming on April 29, which will be filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office this week. The secretary of state will then have six weeks to approve or reject the rules, which means games could run as early as late June, but more likely early July.
Rules Await Approval
John Myers, director of the WVLC, told iGaming Business that games are likely to be ready to roll immediately if the Secretary of State’s office approves the rules.
“Once approved, West Virginia casinos can begin offering iGaming under the emergency rules and [with] minimum internal controls,” Myers said. “Those rules will be good for 15 months until the permanent legislative rule is adopted by the legislature.”
The West Virginia Legislature passed the Lottery Interactive Wagering Act in March 2019, which will allow for casinos to operate online games that include poker. The draft rules will allow each casino to operate up to three skins under its license, which will require a $100,000 fee. Operators will pay a 15% gross revenue tax.
The commission can grant interim licenses immediately after the rules are accepted. That license will last for 270 days until a full review of each application can be completed.
Myers said that the emergency rules were being finalized when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US, which allowed the commission to complete its work well ahead of the July 1 deadline set out by the gaming bill.
“All that remains is approval of the emergency rule by the Secretary of State and the approval of our minimum internal controls by the Lottery Commission,” he told IGB. “It is conceivable that some of our iGaming operators could be up and running as early as June or July under the emergency rules.”
State Open to Interstate Poker
The West Virginia Legislature will have to pass the rules before they become effective, which will likely happen next year. In the meantime, the state will operate its online gaming under the emergency rules.
When online poker begins running there, West Virginia will become the fifth state to allow the games, joining Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
The rules show that West Virginia wants to work with other states to offer interstate poker, depending on how courts rule on a reinterpretation of the Wire Act that says interstate gambling should not be allowed. West Virginia’s rules would allow “reciprocal agreements” with other states as long as the games are “not inconsistent with federal law” or the laws of those states.