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Interactive gaming bill becomes law

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s interacting gaming bill is now law after Gov. Jim Justice failed to act on House Bill 2934 before the deadline last Wednesday.

According to the law, the state Lottery has more than a year to design and implement regulations for iGaming at the state’s five casinos. The sites will be able to run land-based casino games, such as poker.

“There are a lot of different things out there that I guess people do,” state Lottery Director John Myers said. “I think there are even some video lottery games like we have in the casinos to a smaller degree that you could even play.”

The agency has until June 2020 to finalize initial rules, and Myers said the program could launch by February the next year. He cited the 2020 election and the inauguration as reasons for the launch’s schedule.

“We got them to move it back a few months just to give us time to get through there,” he said.

Myers said like traditional table games,  player revenue would be taxed 15 percent.

Delegate Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley,  was the lead sponsor of the legislation, which was finalized on the final day of the regular legislative session after a 26-7 vote from the state Senate on March 8 and a 72-22 House vote  Feb. 22.

In general, the bill clears the way for land-based casino games run through the existing casinos to be played on electronic devices.

“I’m not surprised that we got it passed. I’m surprised that it sailed through as easily as it did,” Barrett told MetroNews of the proposal.

Currently, three states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware — have legal online casinos. Online poker is legal in Nevada.