Rules governing ADW being prepared in West Virginia

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: May 19, 2020

The West Virginia Racing Commission May 19 said it is preparing rules that will govern advance deposit wagering, which was approved by the state legislature and governor earlier this year and takes effect July 1.

ADW is not yet legal in West Virginia, though officials said companies have been taking wagers from state residents.

WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said the plan is to have a draft rule—put together by industry stakeholders—ready in June, but it can’t be filed with the Office of Secretary of State until July 1. It will then be subject to a 30-day comment period even though it is designated as an emergency rule.

“We will seek input from the racing community in the drafting of the rule to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Moore said. “We’ll have to take applications from (ADW) providers, and the racing commission must approve them, so there will be time between the effective date of the law and legalization to take wagers. Hopefully, it will be a short period of time.”

“We’re very anxious to get this started,” said WVRC member Ken Lowe, who touched on the issue of unlicensed companies taking bets from West Virginia residents. “I’m going to hold everybody to it. We have to clean this industry up, and I’m talking about the ADW providers.”

The law provides for source-market fees to be paid by wagering providers.

Live racing returned to West Virginia May 14 after a two-month shutdown caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races reopened with no on-track patrons permitted under current state protocol, and its first three nights of racing generated substantial increases in pari-mutuel handle.

The three programs from May 14-16 produced total wagering of $12.4 million, up 202% from $4.1 million for the comparable three nights in 2019. Erich Zimny, Charles Town Vice President of Racing and Sports Operations, said the handle covered about two-thirds of purse money, “which is very difficult to do here as you know.” In addition, about $100,000 was generated for the West Virginia Thoroughbred Development Fund.

“People were exceedingly pleased to get back to some sense of normal,” Zimny said.

Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort will begin its meet May 31, also without spectators. The WVRC approved a request from track management—the Mountaineer Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and a mutuel clerks’ union also signed the letter—to not make up the racing days it lost during the shutdown and to cancel four Wednesday night cards in June.

Mountaineer will race Sunday through Tuesday nights for about a month, and then add Wednesday nights in July. The track also received approval to offer eight races instead of nine each night.

The state’s casinos got the go-ahead from the state to reopen June 5, albeit with COVID-19 crowd restrictions and health and safety protocols in place.