Lottery ready to file emergency rule for iGaming

Editor’s note It’s possible iGaming could begin this summer. The initial story incorrectly said it wouldn’t happen until 2021.

CHARLESTON ,W.Va. — The state Lottery Commission will submit an emergency rule to the Secretary of State later this month governing the establishment of iGaming in West Virginia.

The 39-page emergency rule, approved by the Lottery Commission last week, will be replaced by a permanent rule later this year and then will go before the legislature in next year’s legislative session for final approval.

John Myers

State Lottery Director John Myers said the emergency rule could change following a public comment period this summer and legislative review in next year’s session.

A bill passed by state lawmakers 2019 established iGaming giving the Lottery more than a year to design and implement regulations at the state’s five casinos. The sites will be able to run land-based casino games, such as poker. iGaming can only be played by someone physically in the state, like the sports betting rules.

The rule passed last week includes other provisions included in sports betting. One of those gives the lottery commission the authority to grant interim licenses to vendors for up to 270 days while full vetting is taking place.

MORE Read emergency rule here

Myers said the rule includes three pages of civil penalties that can be applied to anyone who breaks the law.

“Hopefully this can act as a deterrent to any type of that activity,” Myers said.

The rule also deals with what happens if personal information of those playing is breached.

Myers previously told MetroNews he expects iGaming to bring in about the same kind of revenue as sports betting which has a 10 percent tax rate for the state on money bet at the casinos and through mobile apps.

“The tax rate is 15 percent in iGaming and 10 percent in sports wagering but with the number of people we have I expect the same revenue generation,” Myers said.

Myers doesn’t expect the build-out of iGaming to be as labor intensive as getting sports betting up and running in West Virginia.

“The initial build-out of the iGaming system–they can almost take the new games, which will come in a suite and they can lay that right on top of a sports wagering-type of platform,” Myers said late last year. “It’s not going to be as labor intensive or to take as long to get out as sports wagering.”

The following are additional comments from Lottery Director John Myers:

The emergency rules that were approved by the Lottery Commission will now be filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. The plan is to file those rules with the Secretary of State by May 15th. The Secretary of State’s Office then has 42 days to approve or reject those rules. Once approved, West Virginia casinos can begin offering iGaming under the emergency rules and minimum internal controls. Those rules will be good for 15 months until the permanent legislative rule is adopted by the Legislature.

Our emergency rules were already being finalized when the pandemic hit. All that remains is approval of the emergency rule by the Secretary of State and the approval of our minimum internal controls by the Lottery Commission. It is conceivable, that some of our iGaming operators could be up and running as early as June or July under the emergency rules.

The Legislation was passed with this timeline in mind, and the statute states that the emergency rule must be filed before July 1, 2020. West Virginia had just introduced sports wagering and the May 15 timeline was selected so that the emergency rule would not expire before the permanent rule was passed and made effective by the Legislature in 2021.

 





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