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West Virginia Gambling Laws

While not everywhere is Vegas, many states now have at least some forms of legal gambling. Most states permit at least non-profits or religious organizations to run a licensed bingo game, including West Virginia. Some states have gaming at reservations operated by the local tribes. As West Virginia has no federally or state recognized tribes, it also has no Native American owned casinos. Some states, like Mississippi, have riverboat gambling, while others, like Kansas, have state-run casinos, including a state run lottery.

Gambling in West Virginia

West Virginia has five casinos. Casinos were initially legalized in 1994. West Virginia’s are primarily “racinos” or video lottery games at pari-mutuel dog or horse racing facilities. West Virginia has two operating dog racetracks and two operating horse racetracks. The table games at these casinos are state owned.

The following chart outlines the main gambling laws in West Virginia.

Code Sections West Virginia Code Chapter 29
Chapter 19, Article 23: Horse and Dog Racing
Chapter 61, Article 10: Crimes Against Public Policy
Gambling West Virginia law defines gambling as betting or wagering money or another thing of value on any game of chance or knowingly giving money or something of value for another to bet on any game of chance.
Penalty Penalties for gambling range from a fine of $5 to $100 for betting at table games or slots to a fine between $100 and $1,000 and 2-12 months in jail for keeping a gaming table or machine. Running an illegal lottery will also result in forfeiting the proceeds to the state.
Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting West Virginia law permits licensed horse racing and parimutuel wagering.
Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting Licensed dog racing and parimutuel wagering are allowed.
Casinos Video lottery games, which can look like a slot machine, are allowed at parimutuel racing facilities. However, the machines can’t use casino themes such as dice, roulette, or baccarat.
Other Gambling Activities Allowed Bingo, raffles, and other games of chance sponsored by charitable organizations are legal.
Other Gambling Activities Banned Lots of activities are prohibited from animal fighting (typically, cockfighting or dogfighting), “policy” or “numbers” games, gambling at hotels, keeping gaming tables or devices or allowing them on property, or keeping a lookout to protect gambling activities are all illegal.

Gaming laws can be complicated and involve both criminal laws and business laws. If you’ve got questions, you should speak with a gaming lawyer. If you win big at the racetrack, you should consider talking with a tax expert and estate planning lawyer to protect your finances.

Note: State laws are revised often; be sure to conduct your own legal research or contact a knowledgeable attorney to verify these gambling laws.

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