Legalization Still Not For West Virginia

Antipathy to online gambling about to change?

Even though West Virginia has on various occasions proved severe opposition to the legalization of online gambling, speculations about a potential change of heart have been mounting in the state as the pressure is growing bigger with online gambling legalization bills being revised in New Jersey, California and Florida.

According to the Charleston Gazette, which reported the words of John Melton, lead legal counsel for the West Virginia Lottery Commission, the consensus remained against the concept, but there is a strong argument for the proposition that the internet represents the next major gambling frontier.

It was further stated by Melton that this issue has not yet hit the West Virginia lawmakers’ agenda. In his words: "If everybody else does it, we'd probably do it as well." Still, he wanted to warn that online betting concerns state officials looking to enforce gambling laws, as any law that is to be adopted needs to contain safety measures which will prevent underage bettors from gambling.

Vice President of Penn National Gaming, which owns Charles Town Races and its accompanying casino in Charles Town, Eric Schippers, opined that "More and more states are going to be exploring this issue," but added that the gaming system would have to remain in-state, in order to prevent someone placing online bets in Morgantown from seeing their Internet signal pass through Pennsylvania before arriving in Charleston.

He also predicted that federal regulation will probably be essential in terms of online gambling, which may in the end turn into a court competition between those who are for and against the concept. "I think there's going to be some legal action against it. I think we're going to be a passive observer of how this plays out in New Jersey before we look at other states," he explained.

The newspaper learned from Dan Adkins, vice president of Florida-based Hartman & Tyner Inc., which owns Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Nitro, that if West Virginia approved and passed a law legalizing online gambling, he would probably jump at the chance and take advantage of Internet gaming at the casino. He still expressed certain reservations, explaining: "I don't think the technology is there, despite what people say, to make it safe. I'm not too sure it's a good idea.

"I'm not too sure the country -- let alone West Virginia -- is ready for it yet," he opined.

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