West Virginia gamble on SCOTUSsports betting decision could pay off

By JIM WORKMAN

For the West Virginia 

Press Association

CHARLESTON - All states are now free to operate in sports betting, thanks to a United State Supreme Court ruling Monday May 14, 2018.

West Virginia is poised to take advantage of the new opportunity as state lawmakers voted to legalize it during the 2018 session, concluded in March. Gov. Jim Justice allowed legislation to become law without his signature.

Wagering on certain professional or collegiate sports events should begin in the coming months at West Virginia Lottery activities. Supporters of the law contend sports wagering revenue will help pay for education, tourism and senior services in the Mountain State.

West Virginia’s five casinos are expected to implement sports betting in the coming months. A smartphone app is also expected to allow participants to place bets.

“There is a lot of illegal gambling going on across the country, so for us to be able to capture significant and meaningful dollars for our state, that’s what we ought to do,” Gov. Justice told reporters Monday. “I think it’s good news – great news.”

The recently passed state law may need to be altered, it has been suggested, to include integrity fee for sports leagues.

“The bottom line is, I think there’s real benefit always to partner with people rather than fight with people,” Justice said. “The amount of the integrity fee would be bore by the casinos, Justice said. “(The casinos) can afford that. Our state is really going to have to pay nothing. You now have a relationship with the sports leagues that would bring additional goodness to us. That’s my entire philosophy. They have an opportunity to help us grow the sports betting.

“Who knows what could forge out of this relationship with the major leagues.”

A special session of the West Virginia Legislature to deal with implementation can’t be ruled out, he added.

“I don’t know,” Justice said. “There needs to be some additional discussion, but I don’t know if there is a way to do it without additional legislation.”

The Justice family owns and operates The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Spring’s, and its casino. Additionally, professional sports teams use the facility as a training facility.

Justice deflected notion that the new law would be personally beneficial.

“I’m an open book, I’m not trying to do anything except help West Virginia,” said Justice. “To say that there is something in it for the Greenbrier – that’s so much garbage that shouldn’t even be reported. I’m in this (as governor) to help West Virginia. I don’t need anything whatsoever from being governor to help myself.”