Vardon: How MLB, the NBA, and the PGA used ‘negotiation by bayonet’ to get a slice of state gambling revenue

From Joe Vardon at The Athletic on January 15, 2020:

An ode to the state’s beloved Mountaineers, the West Virginia Lottery headquarters stands out from other office buildings in downtown Charleston because of its gold roof and big blue signage. It sits off to the side of a highway. Sirens can be heard from the ambulances pulling into a nearby hospital.

Normally, the lottery building is populated by clerks, investigators and executives who manage the small state’s humming gambling business, which includes casinos and horse tracks along with its old-fashioned numbers game. But on May 9, 2018, a host of lawyers in fine suits representing some of the biggest pro sports leagues in the world made their way through the building’s revolving glass door. They were led into the main conference room on the 10th floor, with an oak dais for lottery commission meetings. There weren’t enough seats for the 30 or so people there, so plastic folding chairs and tables were brought in.

The representatives from Major League Baseball, the NBA and the PGA Tour came to West Virginia, a state with no major pro sports teams, to convince lawmakers, casino bosses and other stakeholders to give them a cut of future sports gambling bets.

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Originally published: January 16, 2020. Last Updated: January 16, 2020.