(a) Operation of West Virginia Lottery sports wagering. — Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the operation of sports wagering and ancillary activities are only lawful when conducted in accordance with the provisions of this article and rules of the commission.
(b) Legislative findings. —
(1) The Legislature finds that the operation of the four racetracks and the historic resort hotel in this state play a critical role in the economy of this state, and such constitutional lotteries are rightfully authorized as state enterprises consistent with the rights and powers granted to the states under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The federal government is a government of limited and enumerated powers, and powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved for the states and its respective citizens.
(2) The Legislature finds that section 36, article VI of the Constitution of the State of West Virginia grants the state the exclusive right to lawfully own and operate a lottery in this state. Authorization of wagering on any constitutional lottery within West Virginia is within the state’s sovereign rights as a state to act in the best interest of its citizens.
(3) The Legislature finds that it is in the best interests of the State of West Virginia for the state to operate a lottery in the form of sports wagering and that it is the intent of the Legislature to authorize sports wagering when federal law is enacted or repealed, or a federal court decision is issued that permits a state to regulate sports wagering, as such power is reserved to the states.
(4) The Legislature finds that illegal sports wagering channels operating throughout the United States pose a critical threat to the safety and welfare of the citizens of West Virginia and that creating civil and criminal penalties to prosecute illegal operators, while transferring this black market demand into a secure and highly regulated environment, will protect the public and positively benefit state revenues and the state’s economy.
(5) The Legislature finds that in order to protect residents of this state who wager on sports or other events and to capture revenues and create jobs generated from sports wagering, it is in the best interests of this state and its citizens to regulate this activity by authorizing and establishing a secure, responsible, fair, and legal system of sports wagering immediately, when the federal ban on sports wagering is lifted.
(6) The Legislature finds that the most effective and efficient manner in which the state can operate and regulate the forms of lottery authorized by the provisions of this article is to limit the number of authorized operators to those who are licensed, pursuant to the provisions of §29-22A-1 et seq. of this code, and to facilities licensed to operate video lottery terminals, pursuant to the provisions of §29-25-1 et seq. of this code.
(7) The Legislature finds that the granting of licenses pursuant to the provisions of this article, while maintaining all ownership rights and exercising control through strict regulation of all West Virginia Lottery sports wagering authorized by the provisions of this article, constitutes an appropriate exercise by the Legislature of the power granted it by the provisions of section 36, article VI of the Constitution of the State of West Virginia.
(8) The Legislature finds that the operation of West Virginia Lottery sports wagering at racetracks, licensed pursuant to the provisions of §29-22A-1 et seq. of this code, and at a historic resort hotel, licensed pursuant the provisions of §29-25-1 et seq. of this code, serves to protect, preserve, promote, and enhance the tourism industry of the state as well as the general fiscal wellbeing of the state and its subdivisions.