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Governor to call special session to discuss sports betting law if U.S. Supreme Court legalizes it

WV MetroNews


CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice said he’d be willing to call lawmakers into special session some time later this year to take another look at the sports betting law, if the U.S. Supreme Court hands up a ruling legalizing the practice.

Justice made his comments Monday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Justice allowed the bill (SB 415) to become law without his signature last Friday, but maintained on “Talkline” he’s an “absolute” proponent of the bill.

The new law doesn’t include any money for the major sports leagues. They lobbied the legislature for a one percent integrity fee. Justice said if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey in a sports betting case, West Virginia should seek to tweak its law by using the expertise of the sports leagues.

“If there’s a way to bring them to the table without them trying to take a great big lion’s share of the potential profits that could come to our state then I absolutely think we ought to do that. We ought to at least look at it,” Justice said.

As of right now, the sports leagues have lowered their one percent integrity fee request to .25 percent, that would be taken off what the casinos make, Justice said.

“Now a quarter of a percent is going to come out of the casinos’ pockets,” Justice said. “It’s a very moderate fee. I don’t think it’s going to impact the casinos in a bad way and it’s very miniscule in what comes to the state’s coffers.”

Justice said the major leagues believe the state’s new law has some “rough edges.” He said the state should use the expertise the professional leagues have on the issue. It’s possible by including the leagues the betting revenue would grow, Justice said.

“If in fact that by having the major leagues as a partner they could increase that betting number to a $1.5 billion or $2 billion (a year) then the rewards to the state of West Virginia would be enormous and we’ve gotta look at that,” Justice said.

House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said Monday he doesn’t necessarily see a need for a special session until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

“We jumped the gun on the whole thing,” Armstead said Monday on “Talkline.” I don’t support it. I think it has issues with the state Constitution.”

Jeff Jenkins is head of the news division of MetroNews. Following him @JeffJenkinsMN. Contact him at