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West Virginia legalizes sports betting, gains competitive edge over Maryland

West Virginia legalizes sports betting, gains competitive edge over Maryland. (ABC7)

The Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia quietly kicked off a new era in gaming today, taking the first legal wagers on sports.

Erich Zimny is the head of sports at the casino and he’s happy that after a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way last spring, West Virginia acted quickly to gain a competitive edge over Maryland’s gaming operations.

“We had to wait at first for rules to be passed, for laws to be on our side in the state of West Virginia," Zimny says. “Fortunately, that was done sooner rather than later.”

Maryland’s casino operators are now hoping their state follows suit to legalize sports betting.

MGM National Harbor issued a statement Thursday afternoon warning, “Maryland stands to lose a competitive edge and may find itself playing catch up.”

A bill to legalize sports betting failed in the legislature last year but is likely to be reintroduced next spring. If passed, it will send the issue to a referendum.

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