Bettors in West Virginia will continue their long wait for the launch DraftKings’ mobile sports betting app.
According to an AP report, John Myers, Director of the West Virginia Lottery, said stakeholders were choosing to move cautiously in regards to the placement of the system’s servers to ensure compliance with the Federal Wire Act.
“Everyone involved wants to make sure we proceed the right way,” Myers said in a statement. “The construction of the network and the mobile app involves many parties and can affect the operations of other jurisdictions. The Lottery wants to see a successful launch as soon as possible, but we must make sure that the citizens of West Virginia and our employees are not put at risk. We are working closely with the parties involved, however, it will take time to build the system.”
The Federal Wire Act, or the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, prohibits the operation of certain types of gambling and betting transactions across state lines through electronic wires. This includes the internet. The law’s original purpose, according to scholars, was to give the U.S. government a legal tool to use against organized crime organizations, especially those using bookmaking as a primary source of income.
However, with today’s modern electronic infrastructure, there are questions rapidly arising among those involved in the newly created online sports betting landscape in states that have legalized sports betting. This is especially true regarding how the Federal Wire Act applies in situations where servers in various states interact with each other to support mobile sports betting and other online lottery services.
This month, a federal judge in New Hampshire ruled that the law only applied to sports gambling and not other online lottery activities such as Powerball and MegaMillions drawings in various states. However, questions still remain on how the law pertains to online sports in places such as West Virginia.
The most discouraging news for bettors in West Virginia has to be the lack of a defined timetable for DraftKings’ mobile betting app to go online. In May, Myers announced that DraftKings had completed initial testing and that additional training was on the way. At that point, the anticipated launch date for the app was the following week.
But the app never launched and Myers’ latest statement seems to indicate the app is on indefinite hold while all parties sort through the possibilities. The state has been mired in these types of delays since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA last year. West Virginia’s BetLucky app has not been operational for the past couple of months, leaving the state without an online sports betting option.
West Virginia passed its sports betting bill before the federal ban was struck down in May 2018, but several months of regulatory delays postponed the market for several months to the point that the Mountaineer State, which could have been one of the very first states to take legal sports bets, instead became fifth.
Now, many are left to wonder how much longer it will take for the state to approve the DraftKings mobile betting app for West Virginia bettors.