West Virginia Bill Puts WVU as Head of Gambling Research and Education

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Legislation that was initially designed to aid the study of problem gambling in West Virginia has developed into a bill that has much bigger implications for gambling in the state. The recently approved bill will not only allow West Virginia University (WVU) to examine gambling data but also call for an expansion of gambling educational programs. It also requires annual reports to be submitted to the legislature.

Responsibility Transferred from Operators to Researchers

Bill HB2668 was first introduced by two members of the West Virginia House of Delegates. Its aim was to help the study of problem gambling by obligating licensed operators in the state to share player activity data with researchers at WVU. The WVU Department of Human Services would then use the data to look at problem gambling in the state.

However, while the bill was approved, it underwent significant changes first. An amendment was put forward by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which changed the bill’s focus and the role of WVU. Researchers from the university can still access gambling data, but it will not be shared automatically by operators, the researchers must request it.

Furthermore, the amendment makes the preparation of annual reports the responsibility of the West Virginia Lottery rather than the Department of Human Services. The reports must include information about the economic impact of gambling, innovations in the industry, policy proposals, and information about problem gambling.

Changes Cause Concern

Responsible gambling campaigners have expressed concerns over the amendments. They worry that the focus has shifted from problem gambling. However, the bill passed both chambers and is likely to be signed into law by Governor Jim Justice shortly.

If it becomes law, WVU will set about developing and expanding educational programs designed to prepare students for work in the gambling industry and related fields such as entertainment and hospitality. It is hoped that this will help WVU become an important part of the East Coast’s gaming industry.

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