CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Lottery Director Alan Larrick says the U.S. Supreme Court could rule in less than two weeks on the sports betting issue.
The Court is scheduled to release opinions on April 2 and one could be the New Jersey case where the state is pushing for sports betting to be made legal like it is in Nevada. The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that would make sports betting legal in the Mountain State if the U.S. Supreme Court rules favorably on the New Jersey case.
Larrick told reporters after Wednesday’s state Lottery Commission meeting, a positive ruling from the Court could put the state’s new sports betting law in place by football season.
“I would say a more realistic timeframe is about 90 days. In a perfect world we would be up and running by late summer,” Larrick said.
The new law allows for the sports betting to happen at the four casinos in West Virginia and on a specialized app that could only be used in the Mountain State.
Larrick said those in the gambling industry aren’t just waiting around the Court to rule. He said both the casinos and his office are educating themselves on sports betting.
“We need to learn as much as we can, get the expertise of other folks that have already been in the sports betting business to go forward as soon as possible,” Larrick said.
Lottery officials will also be reviewing the decision to see if it’s more restrictive or broad, Larrick said.
“If it’s a very narrow decision and only rules on the State of New Jersey that may not allow us to go forward. Really, it will depend on what the actual decision is. Realistically, I don’t think the Supreme Court would take that up and issue a very narrow ruling,” Larrick said.
Gov. Jim Justice has left he door open to discuss the betting bill with representatives of professional sports leagues that have expressed concern about the West Virginia law. Larrick said he’s also open to those conversations.
“We would much rather be partners than adversaries. We’ll continue to listen,” he said.
Representatives of Major League Baseball, NBA and other leagues originally pushed for a one percent integrity fee but have told the Justice administration they are willing to reduce that to a .25 percent fee. Larrick said any kind of new tax would have to be reasonable and not cost the casinos business. Any changes would have to be approved by the legislature.
Larrick said the top priority for the Lottery continues to be getting ready to have sports betting up and running as soon as possible following the Supreme Court opinion.
“We think we’re going to be the first out there,” he said. “That’s why we’re really working really hard right now to be able to go forward as soon as we can.”
Until recent years, the West Virginia Lottery has been a step or two ahead of the competition when it comes to added gambling options. Larrick said sports betting also affords that opportunity.
“My predecessors did a great job in being a frontrunner and we hope to be able to do that again. We hope so,” he said.