West Virginia Considering Online Gambling
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: another state, noticing the benefits that online gambling can bring, are mulling over the option to legalize it. This time, that state is West Virginia.
The early plans are to offer smartphone users the option to purchase lottery tickets online. Citing an industry that seems to be progressing towards the legalization of online gambling, Lottery Director John Musgrave has said that they want to be proactive and be ready for it.
“We’re still exploring [online gaming] because we feel that’s the way the industry’s moving, so we want to plan for it,” he said.
He went on to say that they have no idea how it’ll be implemented, but they’re going to take a serious look at it, because the state’s revenue is in a serious decline. He also said, interestingly, that competition from neighboring states are somewhat forcing his hand on the issue.
The plan calls for, eventually, online gambling to fill the void left by the declining lottery revenue. Musgrave said that legalizing and regulating online gambling similar to the way New Jersey has would be a lengthy process, but legalizing a mobile lottery concept could be implemented fairly quickly without any need for the state to alter its gaming laws.
Musgrave should be commended for this decision, but at the same time, it’s making me increasingly frustrated. West Virginia is just another name on a list of states considering legalizing it. Even after seeing the revenues posted by the states that online gambling is legalized in (which were bolstered by no deposit promotions), politicians are hesitant to legalize it, and it’s difficult to understand why.
As we mentioned several months ago, there’s likely going to be a domino effect. As of this writing, Pennsylvania, California, West Virginia, and a handful of other states are considering legalizing online gambling. There are bills waiting to be voted on. Obviously, California would be the state that has the most to gain from legalizing it, given that 38 million people live there.
The only question is who’s going to go first? Every state has both something to gain and lose on the issue. Once one more state legalizes it, states will fall in line. There will be a few holdouts, of course. Texas, for example, has made it clear that they have no intention of legalizing it any time soon, and they’re not going to budge on the issue.
As for West Virginia, there’s nothing we can do but wait. The dollars don’t lie, and their lottery revenue was down four percent from the previous year. They’ve got to do something, and they’ve got to do it quick, or they’re going to be in a very difficult position. Online gambling would definitely bring the state some much needed revenue, especially considering that the state has almost two million residents, which is almost a million more than Delaware, where they’ve already legalized and benefitted from the extra revenue generated by online gambling.