West Virginia has come under fire, as it stands on the precipice of passing a bill to introduce sports wagering into the state.
Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB), has questioned what is labelled as the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act, titled SB 415.
Proposals, which it is stated are only required to be signed off by Governor Jim Justice, do not include a clause for the 1% integrity fee that the MLB, along with the National Basketball Association (NBA), has been lobbying for.
Should the bill be passed, however, implementation will rest on the outcome of the current Christie v NCAA case, and the United States Supreme Court lifting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
As bill 415 was forming part of a house debate, Manfred was on a conference call urging its defeat unless the leagues get the integrity fee.
Speaking to The Register-Herald, Manfred explained: “Unfortunately in West Virginia, there’s only one interested group that has dominated the substance of this bill, and that’s the gaming industry – the people seeking to make money from sports betting.
“It contains literally no protections toward the integrity of the sport. There’s no recognition of that risk. It does not protect young people in West Virginia, by limiting their access to sports betting. It does not protect people with gambling problems.
“All it does is maximise the opportunity for the gaming industry to make money.
“The structure of the bill is so fundamentally flawed, bettors will seek other states with better regulatory frameworks, as a result, the expected financial windfall (for West Virginia) will be much lower.
“We will continue to urge the Governor to veto the bill.”
Before adding that support for the bill could still be shown, should it be adapted: “We would support a bill constructed more efficiently, It would have to take in consideration the citizens and the sports leagues, and not just the gaming industry.
“We have lobbyists available in West Virginia, they’re prepared to work with the legislators to make sure they pass a bill that is good for the citizens, good for the sports as well as good for the gaming industry.”
Initially spearheaded by Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, a proposed 1% integrity fee on sports betting handle has been defended by the leagues as protecting their position as intellectual property creators.
It has, however, been widely criticised by pro US sports betting stakeholders, who deem the NBA and MLB to be only interested in creating their own windfall should the passing of legalisation come to fruition.