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.

Maryland and Legal Sports Betting?

The latest state to join the list of those who are set to legalize sports betting and challenge the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is Maryland according to reports released last week. The State of Maryland is drafting a bill to propose regulation of sports betting which generates huge revenue in the USA, most of which unfortunately goes through illegal channels, owing to the fact that PASPA holds a ban on any kind of sports betting. Maryland’s gambling industry is on the rise and they are trying to use this momentum and give it an additional boost by introducing licensed sports betting activities within the state.

The draft bill introduced under the name H 989 aims to prepare the state for the possible opportunity to exploit legal sports betting by offering the chance to state’s six casinos and three racetracks to apply for sports betting license. The new bill proposes the formation of a special expert task force that would analyze sports betting in the state and create an implementation study. Furthermore, when implemented the overall sports betting activity would be overseen by State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. The bill would have to gain the approval and signature of the governor as well as the approval of wider public through a voters’ referendum.

The State of Maryland uses the time to propose this bill when it has recorded a huge increase in the revenue generated by gambling, partly thanks to the opening of the new casino MGM National Harbor and due to the implementation of recently legalized Daily Fantasy Sports. The logical next step is to exploit the vast market of sports betting which remains unregulated due to the ban imposed by PASPA.

Maryland is not the only state that is mulling over the idea of challenging the federal law. New Jersey has been battling to repeal PASPA for some time now. In fact New Jersey is currently in the appeal process before the US Supreme Court to repeal or amend the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which allows sports betting only in certain states, which is, according to New Jersey appeal, unconstitutional.

Upon the adoption of Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act there were several states that were conducting sports betting and sports lotteries (Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada). These states were exempt from the newly-introduced law and the situation has remained the same to date. Interestingly, back at 1992, the state gave a period of one year to New Jersey to use the window to enter the list of exempt states, however they failed to grab this opportunity, which they now bitterly regret and it makes them even more resolute to persist in their current battle. So far they have had no success but recently there has been a hint of hope in January this year when the US Supreme Court decided to delay the decision until Solicitor General files a brief on the case. Certainly the attempts of other states such as Maryland will give and additional boost to the case and perhaps the federal ban will be lifted in the future.

Sports betting is a huge market that remains unexploited due to the federal ban. Reportedly over $100 billion is generated annually through sports betting channels which are unregulated. With legal regulations the revenue could be directed to the state budget and the bettors would have a secure and protected system overseen and controlled by the states.

For more information on sports betting and online sportsbooks, see the sportsbook portals recommended here in our gambling directory. These websites are great resources for anything and everything sports betting related. We hope Maryland gets this bill approved which could open the door for many other states which would like to allow sports betting.

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.