The state of West Virginia continues to expand its gambling options as lawmakers have now agreed to a compact to add domestic online poker to their list of available games.
Gambling in West Virginia is incredibly popular, with most available types offered to anyone 21 or over, whether they are a resident or just passing through.
The West Virginia Lottery, the governing body of gambling in WV, has now entered into a gambling compact with four other states to join their online poker pool of players. The states included are New Jersey, Nevada, Michigan, and Delaware.
That means online poker in WV can be played for real money over the web by anyone who is 21 or older once gambling sites are approved for licensure. Games will feature competitors from all five states and not just West Virginia.
The reason that a gaming compact has to be arranged and authorized is the presence of the Federal Wire Act – a law put in place to prohibit the transfer of funds across state lines for the purposes of gambling.
This law was initially enacted well before the debut of the Internet, with the purpose of preventing proxy bets over the telephone and bank wire transfers for said wagers.
Because of the new five-state compact, USA online poker can be done across those borders without violating the Federal Wire Act. Poker is a game of skill and involves competition against other players.
However, in states with small populations, the player pools are also small. This limits the competition levels and pot totals, causing seasoned players to seek other avenues for real money poker.
“[Multi-state online poker will] greatly increase the potential pool of participants… It will allow our West Virginia players, when it comes available, to play for bigger winnings.”
West Virginia Lottery Assistant Director Randy Burnside
This Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (the “MSIGA”) was first enacted back in 2014 between Delaware and Nevada.
Any gambling operators that wish to provide online poker services to West Virginia’s player pool must submit an official request to the gaming commission of all five states in the compact.
Officials from the West Virginia Lottery are optimistic that online poker sites can begin accepting local gamblers before the end of 2024.
Anyone wanting to play poker online in WV can do so legally with an offshore gambling site. These online casinos don’t violate state or federal laws and can accept players in West Virginia as young as 18 years old (a few offshore sites are 21+).
The presence of these international poker rooms is another reason that state lawmakers are in a hurry to provide local online gambling options. Legislators are hopeful to retain the profits that in-state poker sites will provide and not let them venture offshore.