Thanks to inaction by Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia, the state as officially moved to legalize online gambling and online poker in the state. As a result, West Virginia will now be joining New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Delaware to be the fifth state in the United States to legalize online gambling. Now, the West Virginia Lottery which serves as the state’s gaming regulator will have until June 2020 to finalize the online gaming regulations which implies that West Virginians might be able to enjoy legal online gambling before the end of next year. However, 2021 seems to be a more reasonable projection for when we can see a fully-fledged online gaming industry in the state.
Sneaky Move by the Governor
Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to wait out the 15-day deadline of the online gambling seem to be rather calculated – there is certainly nothing wrong with it though. Last year, the governor did the exact same thing with a sports betting bill and already people are beginning to ask why. Well, as it turns out, the governor’s family has ownership ties to The Greenbrier Casino and therefore the decision to have the bills be passed as law without his signature is a tactic to avoid appearing impropriety.
Still, this does not take away from the fact that the legalization of online poker in the state is great news for both operators and gamers in the state.
“Right now, online poker is illegal and it’s being done overseas and there are certainly some concerns there with the integrity of the games as well as making sure players are paid because it’s (currently) completely unregulated being offshore,” Mountain State. Del. Jason Barrett (D-Berkeley, District 61) contends.
In essence, the state will now be able to regulate the online casino games that it residents have access to thus protecting them from the risks of gambling-related harm that are often dismissed by illegal and unregulated online gambling and poker platforms.
Shared Poker Pools
Before January, poker players in the states with legal and regulated online poker industry were very optimistic about the prospects of shared player pools. However, things have since changed in this regard due to the reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act by the United States Department of Justice. The new opinion decrees that the Wire Act applies to all forms of online gambling and not just sports betting – this confines all forms of online gaming activities to state borders thus effectively crippling any hopes for share liquidity poker.
A number of lawsuits have already been filed against the DOJ but there is no guarantee that they will successfully be able to get the department to reverse its opinion, again.