CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia lawmaker is eager for the state to be ready to introduce sports betting in the event that a U.S. Supreme Court case leads to the repeal of a nationwide ban.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Democratic Delegate Shawn Fluharty of Ohio calls it a "no-brainer" for West Virginia to allow sports betting.
"This is a great opportunity to delve into some revenue generation we desperately need," he said.
The country's highest court last week agreed to hear New Jersey's bid to allow sports betting at its casinos and racetracks. Legal sports gambling is allowed in Nevada and three other states that already had approved some form of wagering before a federal ban went into effect.
West Virginia was among give states supporting New Jersey's effort to have the case heard by the Supreme Court.
"The brief takes no position on the wisdom of state and federal sports wagering laws, but seeks to stop Congress from forcing states to act as a vehicle for implementing federal policy," said Curtis Johnson, a spokesman for state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. "Such commandeering is unconstitutional and unlawful."
Fluharty during this year's legislative session sponsored a bill seeking to legalize sports betting in the state, but it was never taken up. He argues that West Virginia has a chance to get a jump on neighboring states like it did by legalizing racetrack video lotter in the early 1990s and table games in the early 2000s.
"If we're able to get in front of this, we might be able to get out ahead of the other states for a few years," Fluharty said. "The state desperately needs to generate new revenue."
"We already have the framework in place," he said. "The casinos are in place."