Legalization of sport wagering has been talk of the town lately. With the decision awaiting review in Supreme Court, many states are mulling to legalize sports betting as it would give a boost to revenues of the state. West Virginia has also showed its support for the move.
According to FBI, approximately $2.5 billion dollars is illegally wagered each year on March Madness. 'Sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry out of which 98 percent of it is illegal,' stated delegate Shaun Fluharty of Ohio County, a sponsor of a bill to legalize sports gambling in West Virginia.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 has been challenged by New Jersey. West Virginia along with fourteen other states have introduced similar pieces of legislation to move forward.
'As legislators we need to keep a keen eye on the developments of world economy so that we can grow our economy and compete on a global level. Moreover, sports betting is taking place in West Virginia but the state is unable to make money off of it,' he said.
'We need to be ready for it. Other states are having the same conversation too. Depending on Supreme Court's ruling, we want to have ourselves as a state positioned to move forward and be quick in the market with facility like that,' said Kim Florence, the President and General Manager of wheeling Island Hotel, Racetrack.
Pennsylvania has already passed the legislation, making it a 50 state tug-off war to see who would be the first to implement sports wagering first.
However, there is a conflict of ideas between the lawmakers of West Virginia. Delegate Tom Fast, a Republican from Fayette County, said his party was elected by people to make rational and moral decision and gambling does not fits in with those ideals.
For some lawmakers it is an attractive industry. Indiana, state legislators followed the Nevada model. Their legislation would allow the dozen or so state-run casinos to expand into sports betting on-site including mobile apps.
Of course, a Supreme Court's decision could change a lot if PASPA is declared unconstitutional. Delegate Fluharty says he would keep up his fight until then.
'My motive is to make it possible this session so that we can start deriving revenues from it,' he said.
West Virginia's gamibling industry would fetch revenues and would add a new level of excitement in us.