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West Virginia becomes seventh US state to pursue legalised sports betting

Lawmakers in West Virginia have introduced legislation to legalise sports betting.

The bill was introduced in the House on March 1st by Delegate Shawn Fluharty with ten co-sponsors and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

HHB2751 aims to legalise sports pool betting in West Virginia under the authority of the State Lottery Commission, which would be tasked with establishing rules to regulate the activity.

The bill states that federal law is prohibiting West Virginia from regulating sports betting "in clear violation of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution and the authority [of the state] to regulate all gambling".
It adds that the state would benefit financially from sports betting, as increased state revenues would be generated and numerous jobs preserved and created for state residents as a result of sports betting activities at licensed casino gaming facilities.

The bill further states that sports pool betting, as proposed, constitutes the operation of lotteries under section 36, article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia, and that the right to lawfully place sports pool bets in the state is owned by the state.

The proposed legislation would authorise the state's licensed casino facilities to accept pool bets on sports excluding dog and horse racing, with the Lottery Commission required to set the rules regarding financial and betting reserve accounting practices, and to provide for reasonable annual licensing fees.

Sports betting operators would be required to pay 2 per cent of each bet received to the Sports Betting Special Revenue Fund, and would be prohibited from accepting bets on any amateur sport or athletic event other than collegiate sporting or athletic events, and Olympic sporting or athletic events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.

It also prohibits any bets from being accepted or paid off-premises of the licensed facility.

The introduction of the bill makes West Virginia the seventh US state to challenge the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and pursue legalised sports betting, following in the footsteps of New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

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