Posted on: March 1, 2022, 02:34h.
Last updated on: March 1, 2022, 02:34h.
West Virginia Senators lent their support today to legislation seeking to expand the state gaming industry.
Senate Bill 100 was introduced last month by state Senator Eric Nelson (R- Kanawha). The statute would allow each of the five commercial casinos in West Virginia to extend their gaming license to a smaller so-called satellite casino.
SB100 would grant each casino with the opportunity to construct one smaller gaming outlet, so long as the facility is in the full-scale casino’s host county.
After receiving support in the Senate Finance Committee last week, SB100 moved to the Senate floor. The legislation gained bipartisan support in the West Virginia Legislature’s upper chamber, the Senate vote coming in at 23-10.
Was lead sponsor on SB100 to allow satellite #casinos. 1st step to possibly allow expansion/diversification into the @CharlestonTC. pic.twitter.com/x2SS2qw9Z0
— Eric Nelson, Jr. (@ericnelsonjr) March 1, 2022
With the Senate’s blessing, HB100 now moves to the House for further consideration. The statute has not yet been assigned a House committee for initial review.
Along with its five casinos, West Virginia has legal iGaming with interactive slots and table games. West Virginia is also one of the 30 US states with legal sports betting operational.
Nelson’s bill is an effort to expand gaming and associated tax revenue while simultaneously reinvigorating retail shopping centers. The Republican has expressed dire concerns with the many vacant malls and retail properties across the state.
West Virginia is taking a page out of Pennsylvania’s gaming industry playbook. Pennsylvania legalized satellite casinos in 2017, and three have since opened.
Pennsylvania allows each of its satellite mini-casinos to house up to 750 slot machines. An allotment of 30 table games is allowed in exchange for an additional $2.5 million fee made payable to the state. If the parent casino has sportsbook privileges, which cost in Pennsylvania a one-time $10 million, their satellites can additionally take sports wagers.
Nelson’s West Virginia casino expansion bill doesn’t specify what a satellite might entail. Instead, the legislation — should it pass and be signed into law by Governor Jim Justice (R) — would task the West Virginia State Lottery Commission with determining how many gaming positions each satellite could offer.
Determining the number of gaming terminals and tables at a later point might make sense, as satellites must clear several other hurdles under SB100 before they could be authorized.
If SB100 becomes law, a West Virginia casino would first need to win over its county voters to back a local referendum approving a second casino location. The WV Lottery would then need to review the venue’s application and provide the project with a satellite casino license.
Casinos Must Stay Put
A major caveat of Nelson’s gaming expansion bill is that West Virginia’s current five casinos must stay in operation in their present manner.
“Any licensed [casino] establishing a secondary location shall continue to operate its original facility and continue to maintain and offer amenities, accommodations, options, and services at such original facility,” SB100 details. “Amenities, accommodations, options, and services may include, but not be limited to, table games, video lottery terminals, and sports wagering kiosks offered to the public.”