West Virginia’s Mandatory Data Sharing Bill Reaches Second Reading

A West Virginia bill that would compel gambling operators to share data with West Virginia University (WVU) researchers passed its first reading in the house on Monday after advancing from the Judiciary Committee last week. The legislation’s second reading will happen on Tuesday, with the third following Wednesday.

Rep. Shawn Fluharty, the bill’s co-sponsor (alongside primary sponsor and House Speaker Rep. Roger Hanshaw), told Bonus via email that HB5668 should move ahead this week.

The Bill is out of Judiciary Committee and is currently on the House floor pending passage. I anticipate passage this week.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Speaker Hanshaw. He fully understands the importance and impact this would have not just on West Virginia University, but our state at large as we try to fully research, understand and act on problem gaming to better protect the consumer.

Data Sharing Key to Sustainable Industry

Introduced on Feb. 13, the West Virginia Responsible Gaming and Research Act (RGRA) would apply to all state operators—retail and online. The bill requires that legal operators supply anonymized player data to WVU monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Notably, a possible iGaming referendum in Maryland later this year includes data sharing with Bowie and Morgan State universities as part of the proposal. Previously, the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MAPG) suggested a similar policy when Minnesota considered legislating sports betting last year.

Data sharing, as an idea, is just beginning to catch on. Until now, it’s been an idea that’s primarily gained success in the European market.

Fluharty, who also serves as president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), told Bonus there’s been little industry pushback so far.

While he admitted that could change, he hopes operators see the bill’s benefits.

I would hope that operators understand the importance of allowing our research experts access to data for scholarly purposes. It will only help those operators to fully implement a sustainable model going forward which instills consumer confidence while protecting the public.

Data Exchange Not Part of Model Legislation—Yet

Notably, the NCLGS, which Fluharty heads, is working with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) to develop model iGaming legislation. The resulting policy would offer a regulatory template for states considering legalizing online casinos.

However, Fluharty told Bonus this data-sharing effort is solely West Virginia-focused.

Right now, this is WV-specific. I have had many meetings with the WVU Business School and Dean Joshua Hall. WVU is committed to becoming a leader in this area, and as an R1 research institution, they are fully capable of doing so.

Still, he anticipates data sharing could eventually be of interest to NCLGS.

This topic could also come up as NCLGS members meet for the iGaming legislation committee.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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