Major League Baseball opposes West Virginia sports betting bill

Sports Gambling Bills Advance at West Virginia Capitol

Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the Senate Finance transportation subcommittee that helped shape Senate Bill 856, proposed by Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax.

The NBA and Major League Baseball released separate statements Monday denouncing West Virginia's legislation, but they've jointly retained counsel and communications representatives to press their message in the state.

"Any sports betting legislation must include clear, robust, enforceable protections to mitigate any possible risks to our game".

The NBA released a statement saying in part, "We do not believe the bill now under consideration will achieve the critical goals of protecting consumers and the integrity of our league". Officials state that any fair and safe sports betting law must include provision that are not a part of the legislation in the West Virginia Senate. The law quickly advancing in West Virginia unfortunately falls short of meeting those critical standards. It remains to be seen whether the grassroots organizing that led to Dominion's historic loss on the amendment will be able to overcome support for the entire bill. "We would be happy to work with legislators and the Lottery Commission to improve the current language". "Barring significant changes, we hope they will continue to stand firm in opposition as the process moves forward".

An identical sports betting bill is also moving through the Senate.

"The benefits go to the gaming operators, but the risks are really on the shoulders of sports leagues".

"...because gambling on a sport, or any sport but on this sport is what you want to talk to me about, is I think the deadliest of all things that can happen".

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"We're going to have to spend more money in a world with legal sports betting".

"We just don't like doing it on the fly", Habeeb said.

The sports betting would be regulated by the West Virginia Lottery.

A key element in this debate is the presence of the so called integrity fee, which in the opinions of both the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball would need to be paid by sports betting operators in order to make sports betting viable.

Lastly, Ward said West Virginia's sports betting bill needs more provisions to help the consumer - such as advertising restrictions, programs for problem gamblers, and requiring the use of real-time date to ensure the accuracy and consistency of betting outcomes for fans.

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