CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Lottery Commission, in an emergency meeting, has passed the rules governing the debut of sports betting at the state’s five casinos.
The Lottery Commission aimed to get the rules out as soon as possible, providing casinos with the framework they need.
“This will enable them to go forward to make sure their systems meet the requirements set forth in our rules, so that’s why we tried to get this done as soon as possible to expedite the process,” said state Lottery Commissioner Alan Larrick.
The overarching goal is to lay out what’s expected while also being up and running by football season.
“The goal, hopefully, would be when football season starts. If not, shortly thereafter,” Larrick said.
The commission voted unanimously in favor of approving the rules, with just a couple of minor changes. They’ll likely go to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office as soon as this afternoon.
The state Legislature passed a law allowing sports gaming this past legislative session. The law anticipated a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which did so a few weeks ago.
Now the casinos are preparing in their own right. They are constructing sports book rooms, where betting would take place and where fans could watch games comfortably, as well as developing apps that would be used off-site.
“They can really go forward with their next steps,” Larrick said today. “So we’re getting this out to them and hopefully we’ll be up and running as soon as possible.”
Some of the rules deal with what casinos can do to get going, even if they’re not quite ready yet with their construction or with all phases of their licensing.
Temporary sports pool facilities would be an area approved by Lottery during construction of a sports pool lounge. There would also be designated windows for sports betting wagers, as well as self-service wagering machines.
“We made an allowance for a temporary facility,” Larrick said. “If, in fact, their sports book is not totally built out yet they could designate another spot within the casino as a temporary site.”
Self-service kiosks at the casinos are built into the rules and would remain, even as sports book lounges are built out. Shift supervisors would oversee the activities there.
Some licensing could be provided on an interim basis. “That gives us time to vet fully all the parties,” Larrick said.
In those instances, the casinos would submit a request to start immediately while paying the initial license fee of $100,000. The Lottery director would determine whether the requesting operator has a valid casino license, has paid the fee and is in compliance in other regards too.
Casinos with interim approval would be allowed to start operations for a period of 270 days from the date of the Lottery director’s approval. Any sports pool wagering operation not in compliance after that window would have to stop.
Many of the rules also deal with the integrity monitoring system, essentially the safeguards to make sure all betting is on the up and up.
“If an operator finds that previously reported unusual betting activity rises to the level of suspicious activity, they shall immediately notify all other operators, the Lottery, and all other regulatory agencies or governing authorities as approved by the Lottery,” the rules state.
There are some privacy protections, too, though. The rules state that data received related to unusual or suspicious activity is considered confidential and cannot be revealed except through a court order.
And there are some basics.
The rules spell out that casinos may only accept wagers on sports events where the outcome can be verified.