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Rob Manfred takes aim at West Virginia over MLB integrity fee

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has taken a swipe at the US state of West Virginia and its proposed sports betting bill, which crucially omits the much discussed 1% integrity fee.

After reports that bill SB 415 won the approval of both chambers of the state, it now requires a concurrence by the senate before Governor Jim Justice signs it into law.

Implementation of the bill, however, will be dependent on the United States Supreme Court lifting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

As bill 415 was forming part of a house debate, Manfred was on a conference call urging its defeat unless professional sports gets the integrity fee.

Spearheaded by NBA (National Basketball Association) Chief Commissioner Adam Silver, and duly followed by the MLB, it sees leagues lobbying states in an effort to help craft sports gambling laws.

They state that the integrity fee, 1% of all sportsbook action, is an appropriate and reasonable request due to it being “our product that people are seeking to bet on” as well as helping police its various stakeholders.

Quoted in The Register-Herald, Manfred comments: “Unfortunately in West Virginia, there’s only one interested group that has dominated the substance of this bill, and that’s the gaming industry – the people seeking to make money from sports betting.

“It contains literally no protections toward the integrity of the sport. There’s no recognition of that risk. It does not protect young people in West Virginia, by limiting their access to sports betting. It does not protect people with gambling problems.

“All it does is maximise the opportunity for the gaming industry to make money.

“The structure of the bill is so fundamentally flawed, bettors will seek other states with better regulatory frameworks, as a result, the expected financial windfall (for West Virginia) will be much lower.

“We will continue to urge the Governor to veto the bill.”

“We would support a bill constructed more efficiently, It would have to take in consideration the citizens and the sports leagues, and not just the gaming industry.

“We have lobbyists available in West Virginia, they’re prepared to work with the legislators to make sure they pass a bill that is good for the citizens, good for the sports as well as good for the gaming industry,” Manfred added.

Should the US Supreme Court lift the federal ban on sports wagering, the Bill’s supporters hope additional revenue garnered for West Virginia through sports betting could help fund education, tourism and senior services.

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