Online gambling works in West Virginia. So why isn’t online poker activated? That’s a question lawmakers will have to answer. Lawyers, too.
Unlike the New Jersey battle to end the federal ban for sports betting, no one has stepped up to fight for online poker. The major obstacle is a law designed to fight organize crime, the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. The law prohibits the use of wire communications for betting across state lines. At the moment, this impacts online poker.
Pennsylvania may soon join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey in offering online poker, but legislators have yet to decide because of the uncertainty surrounding what the Department of Justice will do about the Wire Act.
In addition, online casino operators in West Virginia consider online poker cost-prohibitive because of the state’s tiny population. To succeed, the state would need to be part of a multi-state agreement, which means crossing state lines, which means the Wire Act uncertainty.
“Our casino partners are working on their own time frames in regards to what gaming options they bring to us for approval,” Lottery Director John Myers told PlayWV. “We would love to see the launch of an online poker option with a provider in West Virginia. However under advice from the attorney general’s office, that will be delayed until the Department of Justice’s current opinion regarding the Federal Wire Act is resolved or a studio is built inside the borders of West Virginia.”