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WV Lottery Commission establishes rules for sports betting

Jun 22, 2018, 9:41 am

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West Virginia Lottery

The West Virginia Lottery Commission has set its rules for sports betting in the state, following an emergency meeting Thursday.

West Virginia Lottery Director Alan Larrick said the commission passed the sports betting rules, effective Thursday, to give the state's five casinos plenty of time to familiarize themselves with the various regulations outlined in the rules.

"We're trying to do everything we can to get sports betting available by football season — that's what our goal is," Larrick said. "We don't know if we're going to make it or not, but we're going to try."

West Virginia passed its sports betting law earlier this year, shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal law that had banned most sports betting.

The rules are essentially "system requirements" for the West Virginia casinos, Larrick said, spelling out what information casinos have to supply to the Lottery and what they need to do to stay within compliance.

"Our focus is going to be auditing, so we can be sure the numbers that are given by the casinos are accurate," he said. "Then, we can base our [tax collection] on the correct number."

Regarding security, the rules task casino operators to have controls in place to sniff out any unusual betting activity "and report such activity according to the integrity monitoring system procedures" that were approved by the commission.

These integrity monitoring systems give the commission remote access to — at a minimum — all reports of unusual betting activity, if the activity was determined to be suspicious and actions taken according to system procedures.

And before commencing operations, licensed operators must conduct a system integrity and security check of sports pool systems — both online and off — via "an independent professional selected by the licensee subject to approval of the Lottery." Follow-up checks must be conducted annually.

Also among the rules, operators have to make sure communications and transmissions are kept private, one method being encrypting data if communications occur via a public or third-party connection.

Additionally, casinos have to make sure off-site wagers are from people actually present in West Virginia at the time of the wager. The operator is required to use geolocation technology "to reasonably detect" the location of whoever is accessing sports betting online.

"The Geolocation System shall ensure that any player is continually located within the permitted boundary, and shall be equipped to dynamically monitor the player's location and block unauthorized attempts to access the online sports pool system throughout the duration of the patron session," the rules say.

Sports betting on casino premises has to be done from a booth located in a sports wagering lounge, or sportsbook, that meets necessary requirements, or other locations as approved by the Lottery, the rules say.

But casinos need to construct those facilities first, so the rules also address interim sports betting licenses for casinos. This allows them to get in on the sports betting action even if their sportsbook is still under construction, Larrick said.

"In the interim, it may be that a casino may not have its sportsbook entirely built out," he said. "They may use, on a temporary basis, a spot in the casino that they can designate as a sportsbook."

To receive an interim sports wagering license, casinos have to get approval from the Lottery director and pay the initial license fee of $100,000.

The rules say sports betting at a casino may start "in a temporary sports pool facility" for nine months or less, so long as the Lottery director approves as such.

"The Director may extend the use of the temporary facility only upon a showing of good cause," the rules say.

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