West Virginia Moves to Online Gambling

West Virginia is the latest US state to join the company of those who have kicked off the year with plans and proposed bills to introduce iGaming as a part of their legislation. Earlier this week an online gaming bill was presented before West Virginia’s House of Delegates under the title HB3067 sponsored by five delegates, lead by Delegate Shawn Fluharty. The bill aims to solve the financial worries the state has been going through in the recent years by legalizing various forms of internet gambling including online poker and online casinos.

According to the bill proposal presented by Shawn Fluharty technological progress and the modern trends in the industry open up the new space for development of the casino industry, especially concerning online poker, as by the beginning of the year West Virginia Senate have voted in favor of treating poker as a game of skill. Such interpretation of poker allows for it to be legalized without contradicting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Though this is not the first time West Virginia legislators discuss the notion of legalizing internet gambling, HB3067 is the first official draft bill proposed.

Over the last few years casino industry in the state has recorded a downfall in generated revenue, caused mainly by the growing competition from the other states. There are five land-based casinos in West Virginia, while there are over twenty in neighboring states. The very beginning of the year showed a drop of 15% in the total revenue generated by West Virginia casinos, so it is a good moment to propose a solution and cut the problem in its root.

Logical solution that arises is definitely introducing online gambling in the picture, which the five delegates recognized and decided to co-sponsor the bill that would allow internet gambling to the persons over 21 years old within the borders of the state. The West Virginia Lottery Commission would be in charge of licensing and regulation.

According to HB3067 the proposed licenses would be issued to the existing gaming operators and the one-time fee is set to $50,000, which is significantly lower in comparison to other states whose proposed fees do not go under $1 million. The Commission would be responsible for monitoring the online gambling activity in terms of verifying the age of the players and their location, as well as detecting any kind of fraudulent activity.

The bill would also impose legal action against unauthorized online gambling in the form of money penalties and imprisonment. The bill predicts two types of fines: a fine between $75,000 and $150,000 for first offense and a fine between $150,000 and $300,000 and between one and three years in prison for a second offense.

As in the other US states attempting to pass acts that would allow internet gambling the future of the online gambling bill in West Virginia is uncertain, but if it is to judge by the statements of the Lottery directors in the previous years, there is reason for hope.

In the meantime, if you live in West Virginia or any other state which does not yet allow internet gambling, browse our full gambling directory for all the types of internet gambling available. Whether you want to play online poker, casino games or bet on sports, we have the best portals listed right here at eGamblingPortals.

Atlantic City Casinos See Rise in Revenues

Finally, after a decade of struggles to resuscitate revenue from gambling and online gambling activities, Atlantic City has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in ten years, since 2006, the operating casinos in Atlantic City recorded a rise in the revenue. The records announced by New Jersey regulators state the figure of $2.6 billion accrued last year, which translates to an increase of 1.5%. Detailed analysis of the revenue figures shows that this result was achieved mostly thanks to online gambling activities such as their USA online casino (including online slots), online poker and live dealer casino play.

The downfall of Atlantic City began in 2006 with the opening of Pennsylvania casinos which was detrimental for Atlantic City as it watched all of their customers flow away in another direction. During the following years the situation grew even worse. The starting number of 12 casinos was reduced to eight, causing thousands of jobs to be lost. Today this number has declined even more with the closure of Trump’s Taj Mahal, which occurred on October 10, 2016 after 26 years of operation. The remaining seven casinos include Bally’s, Borgata, Caesars with online casino Caesars Interactive-NJ, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, Resorts with online entity Resorts Digital and Tropicana.

According to the New Jersey Divisions Of Gaming Enforcement, which released the official revenue record on Thursday, land-based casinos generated $2.406 billion from gambling which is less by 0.3% than the overall gaming revenue in 2015. This is where online gaming comes to the rescue with a contribution of $196.7 which represents an increase of 32 percent in comparison to last year. With online gambling revenue the total number amounted to $2.602 billion. Compared to last year this figure records an increase of 1.5% in total gaming revenue which is the first time since 2006.

The numbers for each casino show that Golden Nugget and Tropicana marked the biggest increase compared to their revenue generated in 2015, while Bally’s barely made it through. Nevertheless all seven casinos recorded positive numbers.

One of the biggest boosts was recorded in the last month of 2016. The figures in December show significant increase in comparison to last year. Currently active seven casinos have earned $22 million more than in December last year which amounts to an increase of 13.6 percent. The Chairman of New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Matt Levinson believes that the factor of luck had its share in the situation. The fact that the New Year’s Eve was on Saturday definitely helped to boost December revenue of the casinos. He also expressed his satisfaction with the growing numbers and added:

“These are some strong numbers, especially with all the bad news about Atlantic City’s ‘demise. There’s a lot of good news here. We have some stronger casinos now, and internet gambling continues to increase. The hope is we’re entering a stable environment now.”

Columbia Regulates Online Gaming

The new EGaming Act was recently approved by the Colombian Government after several drafts have been put forward for discussion by the Colombian regulating agency Coljuegos. The new act is supposed to regulate the activity of online gaming operators in terms of licensing, taxation and technical requirements. According to the new law the operators will be able to provide a wide range of gambling content including online casino games, online poker, sports betting, fantasy sports and promotional games.

Internet gaming in Colombia was not properly regulated in the past, that is, the law did not explicitly cover this field of gambling activity. Some rules regarding online gambling were included in the Government National plan but the government realized that online gambling was a reality and that by not defining it within the confines of the state, a huge market was left unexploited. Therefore, in the last few years the agency which regulates gambling activity in Colombia, Coljuegos started drafting bill proposals for legalization of online gambling.

This finally resulted in putting forth the new EGaming Act according to which the Online Gaming Operators are obliged to open a bank account in Colombia and also own a Columbian domain. The tax levy imposed on Operators’ net income is 15% which was reduced from 17% as it was previously implied in the National Plan. Furthermore the fee for the acquired license will be a fixed amount calculated as 811 minimum wages as determined by the state which amounts to around $160,000.

The license will be pretty flexible in terms of the games allowed, as Operators can offer anything from online casino games such as baccarat, roulette, poker, etc. to sports betting and promotional games. Promotional games are one interesting aspect of the online gaming as their purpose is to advertise the products and services while at the same time promoting gambling and attracting new players. Practically, these games provide the players with the opportunity to gamble for free if they purchase a certain product or a service.

The new Act definitely represents a breakthrough for Colombian Online Gambling market; however, certain challenges are already in sight. First of all, according to the Colombian law “a game operates through the Internet when both the bet and the prize are paid exclusively through the internet.” This implies that the players should own a bank account, which, you may think, should not be a problem but the situation is slightly different with the Colombians.

In Colombia there is a majority of people who do not possess a bank account or internet access. Gamblers are skeptical about online payments and prefer to process their payments in cash. Now the logical course of action would be building trust of the gamblers and working hard on promotion of the online gambling, which takes a lot of time and effort. Mentality change takes much more than bringing a law.

Another major concern for Colombians is that the local entrepreneurs possibly will not be able to contend with the foreign operators due to the high licensing fees.

The theory and reality of the new online gambling law encounter some contradictions, which is another issue for Coljuegos and the government to deal with. A step forward has been made but obviously there are many other things to consider and amend in the future.

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