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West Virginia Businesses Look To Wagering Partner

WHEELING — West Virginia bars and restaurant owners have partenered with the creator of a wagering app on legislation that would give them the means to capitalize on betting opportunities in the state.

House Bill 4191 would expand legalized wagering in West Virginia by allowing bars and restaurants to contract with a betting app vendor to provide not just betting on sports, but “pick’em” type contests to the gambler. It would amend the law passed last year permitting sports betting only at the state’s four racetracks, and the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.

“The Legislature finds that individuals frequently place unlawful sports wagers against other individuals, and in sports wagering pools, at establishments that serve beverages and food, and that it is beneficial to the state to regulate that wagering activity and capture a portion of the revenue that it generates,” the bill states.

“The Legislature finds that the opportunity to participate in sports wagering should not be predominantly limited to out-of-state companies, and that locally owned businesses should also have the opportunity to participate in sports wagering.”

Members of the West Virginia Bar and Restaurant Owners Association are set to meet today in Morgantown to learn more about the legislation, and about the PropMe sports app.

HB 4191 was co-authored by David Ealy — creator and co-founder of PropMeLLC — along with Steve Ruby of the Bailey and Glasser law firm.

It was introduced during the first week of the regular session by Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, and Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, is among its sponsors.

“The legislation is designed to help small businesses in West Virginia get in on on-line gaming,” Ealy said. “We have created a gaming app, but it has been difficult to find a path to licensure and the legality to gamble.

“So we have introduced legislation where the bar and restaurants could contract and take advantage of the passage of gambling.”

Ealy is a Moundsville native who presently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The PropMeLLC company is registered as a business in McMechen.

He explained how his app and business would work. The bar and restaurant owners would contract with him to have a spot on the app’s menu. Players with an established account would log on to the app, then click on spot purchased by the bar or restaurant where they would see a wagering question.

The question could ask them anything from “Will Ben Roethlisberger pass for more than 200 yards today?” to questions about world events.

Plays would be tracked, and the business, would get a 20 percent share of any wager placed through their spot.

Ealy said bars and restaurants in the Northern Panhandle have been among the early investors, and he is next approaching businesses in Monongalia and Kanawha counties.

Among the investors is Mike Duplaga, owner of Generations Restaurant and Pub in Wheeling.

“This app creates an entire new stream of revenue for restaurants, and an entire new stream of entertainment for customers,” he said.

“Whatever gaming is allowed in West Virginia should be allowed to all establishments. The playing field should always be level, and we should let the consumers decide.”

Many bar and restaurant owners have bristled that only casinos in the state could offer gambling opportunities.

“One entity should not have what bars and restaurants do not have,” Duplaga said.

Fluharty explained his sponsorship of the bill.

“It’s an opportunity for our local small business owners and entrepreneurs to participate in sports wagering, which is only increasing in popularity with every passing day in our state,” he said. “I’ve been meeting with local business owners in the Northern Panhandle to help craft the legislation, and it has bipartisan support from my colleagues.

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