“Integrity fee” dead for now in West Virginia

Getty Images

If the sports leagues want to buy integrity, they’ll apparently have to pay for it themselves. At least in West Virginia.

As the West Virginia Legislature prepares to convene for a special session on Monday, the possibility of amending the current gambling bill to include a cut for the sports leagues under the dubious label of “integrity fee” isn’t on the agenda of items as compiled and distributed by Governor Jim Justice.

The state’s position seems to be (at least for now) that the casinos that will be taking bets and the sports leagues are free to enter into a private agreement to provide the sports leagues with a cut, but that the government won’t be getting involved. That’s a sharp turn from previous efforts by Justice, whose Greenbrier resort does business with the NFL’s Texans and the PGA, to broker a deal that would pay the sports leagues one percent of all revenues in exchange for, essentially, nothing.

Criticism of Justice’s efforts in light of his obvious conflict of interest coupled with an aggressive attempt to obtain information regarding the matters discussed at a closed-door meeting on the topic apparently caused those trying to throw a bone to the sports leagues to run for cover.

Of course, that’s possibly not the end of it. With Congress possibly crafting legislation aimed at regulating sports wagering, the integrity fee could be foisted onto the states by the feds.