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Volume 25 No. 6

Sports In Society

The West Virginia Senate Finance Committee on Monday "debated at length" legislation to legalize sports betting in the state's casinos, and for the first time, "heard from professional sports leagues that want a cut of the action," according to Phil Kabler of the CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL. DC attorney Scott Ward, representing MLB and the NBA, said that the leagues "would like to have a 1 percent 'integrity fee' on each wager to help monitor betting on sporting events." He said that the integrity fee would be used to "monitor and share data on abnormal betting on games with the leagues." It also would be used to "verify in-game bets" and enforce "existing league prohibitions on players betting on their sports." West Virginia Lottery Commission Chief Counsel Danielle Boyd said that the 1% fee on the each wager "could produce more revenue" than the state lottery’s 10% tax on sports betting profits "proposed in the bill." She noted that there were nearly $160M in "legal wagers on the Super Bowl placed in Las Vegas casinos earlier this month." If there were a 1% integrity tax on that event, the NFL would have seen a $1.6M profit "off the top, more than the casinos made on the game." Ward said that the leagues want a 1% fee on the overall betting handle "rather than a percentage of the casinos’ profits." But state Sen. Doug Facemire said that he is "not convinced the professional sports leagues should get any share" (CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL, 2/13). In West Virginia, Rusty Marks noted the proposed bill would "allow betting on sports" at West Virginia's four casinos and at The Greenbrier resort (WVNEWS.com, 2/13).