- 1 Getting started on WV online sportsbooks and apps
- 2 WV online sports betting: The sportsbooks
- 3 Land-based sportsbooks in West Virginia
- 3.1 Public Racetrack Casino sportsbooks
- 3.2 Private club sportsbook
- 4 Future sportsbooks in West Virginia
- 5 Specific regulations, the tax rate, and revenue results
- 6 A brief history of West Virginia’s path to sports betting
West Virginia was highly supportive of New Jersey in its legal fight to invalidate the federal restrictions on sports gambling, and its legislature passed its own laws in advance of the Supreme Court decision that allowed individual states to decide for themselves.
Under the guidance of the West Virginia Lottery Commission, the first of the Mountain State’s physical sportsbooks opened just in time for the 2018 football season. Additional operations opened throughout the season, with the first online app becoming temporarily available at the end of December before shutting down.
Online options are expected to soon relaunch, especially now that online casino gambling also seems to be on the way, making West Virginia one of the only places in the country where sports fans will be able to safely and legally place bets at their convenience, from any location and at all hours.
In this page we will examine the current status of the West Virginia market (both in the real world and on the internet), explain how residents and visitors can access this new gambling medium, and review how all this came to pass.
Getting started on WV online sportsbooks and apps
The process of becoming an online bettor is about as simple as it gets. Any person that meets some basic eligibility requirements and has access to a fairly recent computer or mobile device will be able to sign-up and plunk down their first wager within minutes.
Age 21 and up only
By law West Virginia will not allow you to register an account unless you are at least 21. This is despite the fact that sports betting is regulated by the Lottery Commission and takes place at race tracks, and you only need to be 18 to bet on horse races or buy lotto tickets.
Try not to think about it, because no amount of arguing will get you around this. Unless, of course, you complain for so long that you actually turn 21.
Location, location, geolocation
You can access your account from nearly anywhere, which allows you to view potential bet information and handle any banking transfers. However, you will not be able to actually place any bets unless you can confirm to the site that you are physically within state lines at the time.
On a tablet or smartphone this is usually as easy as simply turning on Location services. On a computer activating a geolocation plugin and confirming a Wi-Fi signal is required.
So long as the server knows you are physically in West Virginia you are good to go.
Select the appropriate “new user” or “join” link and in a few simple steps you should be able to create a site account and get started betting.
Generally, you only need a small amount of basic vital information about yourself, such as your e-mail address, SSN, and what password you will want to use. Beyond these, the only other questions can be answered by looking at your own government-issued ID (and in some cases you can just snap a picture of the ID on your phone and skip any extra steps).
The only thing to keep in mind is to make certain your name and address information on your ID is currently matched correctly to whatever banking option you will want to use, in order to avoid potential withdrawal headaches later on.
Banking options: put some money in your account
Once creation is complete the only thing holding you back from making bets is a lack of funds. Generally getting money in your online sportsbook account is a fairly easy process accomplished by a variety of methods.
Typically online sports betting sites offer the same options as online casinos and poker rooms. You can instantly transfer money from a bank account, major credit card or prepaid card, online eWallet, or even cash.
- Generally speaking, ACH bank transfers are the fastest option with decent limits.
- The greatest convenience comes from eWallets such as PayPal or NETELLER.
- Cash is the preference for people who prefer to keep their money off the grid. Keep in mind that deposits can be made either at the cashier’s cage of the affiliated casino or by using PayNearMe (i.e. go to any local 7-11 or CVS) but withdrawals can only be accomplished at the cage or by requesting a paper check by mail if you do not have access to the casino.
Note: At this time the only live online sportsbook in the state appears to only be taking deposits via credit/debit card or cash, though we can expect this will change before long.
First-time online sports gamblers should take great care to inform themselves about any possible welcome bonus that the site offers, which is often a small amount of free bonus cash paired with a deposit match or risk-free bonus offer.
WV online sports betting: The sportsbooks
|Sportsbook||Land-Based Partner||Desktop?||Mobile?||Launch Date|
*Editor’s note: On March 7, 2019, Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos, as well as the BetLucky.com app, interrupted sports betting. In a presser addressing the matter, Delaware North (which operates both retail outlets) stated that its sports wagering provider Miomni Gaming is in a “contract dispute with a third-party technology supplier.”
As of April 22, Delaware North has filed a lawsuit against Miomni alleging fraud, and still needs to find a new platform solution. BetLucky and the two retail sportsbooks are expected to relaunch shortly.
On April 24 the West Virginia Lottery approved licenses for five additional companies to participate in sports betting: FanDuel and William Hill (both of whom are operating physical sportsbooks already), DraftKings (which has a deal to partner with one of the two casinos using WH for brick-and-mortar operations), and IGT and GeoComply (which provide necessary software to the sites).
Current physical sports betting operations are becoming stagnant while the industry struggles to get online options live. In the absence of Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras, and with The Greenbrier doing barely any wagering lately, the only limited action is currently coming from Hollywood and Mountaineer.
Hopefully either FanDuel or DraftKings can finally cut through the obstacles and get a solid online sportsbook up-and-running in the state soon.
- Launch date: December 27, 2018
- Welcome bonus: 2x your first bet in Bonus Money, up to $20
- Tech partners: Mionmi
- Mobile apps: iOS and Android
- Integration ties: None yet, possibly after online casino is legalized
- Special features: In-play bets, promotions, good lines
By far BetLucky’s greatest advantage is that it is completely alone in a market with no competition.
Unfortunately, it does not always seem able to capitalize on this, possibly mostly due to a lack of marketing, but the operator will certainly want to quickly build up a loyal fanbase if it wants any hope of thriving after higher profile competitors launch in WV.
Minor flaws such as the lack of a good cash out option, a weak welcome package, and the lackluster Lucky North Club loyalty program, can all be corrected if the site acts quickly.
Currently, there is no browser-based access via a computer, only mobile, and even the banking methods are very limited. But, at least the app seems solidly built and reliable, and account creation is quite easy.
Useful tip: Keep an eye out for the possible sudden improvement in betting options and promotional offers that will have to happen soon.
DraftKings Sportsbook WV
- Launching soon
DraftKings has been enormously successful both at Daily Fantasy Sports and more recently with actual online sports betting in NJ. The company is now seeking to expand into other markets such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania as soon as possible.
DraftKings has agreed to develop a WV site for Penn National’s Hollywood Casino. The site does not have a set launch date as the Lottery Commission have indicated the operator may have a lot of minor work to do to get the book ready to go live.
Currently, DraftKings NJ is among the revenue leaders in a state with many online sportsbooks, thanks in part to nationwide brand recognition that should help it achieve swift success when launching in WV.
FanDuel Sportsbook WV
- Launching soon
The other of the two DFS giants to successfully transition to full true sports betting, FanDuel has an extremely popular online sportsbook in NJ and is operating a physical sportsbook in WV at the Greenbrier resort.
While the FanDuel online book is certainly on its way, especially now that its license has been approved, still no specific information or dates are available yet. Our only basis for speculation is to look at the admirable NJ site.
Land-based sportsbooks in West Virginia
Until more online options become available, West Virginians that are not enthralled by BetLucky can only participate in sports betting by visiting one of the state’s five physical sportsbooks.
|Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races||Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino||09/01/2018|
|The Greenbrier||FanDuel Sportsbook||09/14/2018|
|Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort||William Hill Sportsbook||11/21/2018|
|Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack||BetLucky Sportsbook||12/27/2018|
|Mardi Gras Casino & Resort||BetLucky Sportsbook||12/27/2018|
These brick-and-mortar casino locations are fairly spread out about the perimeter of the map, and fortunately close enough to West Virginia’s neighbors that they may attract brief visits from outsiders unable to access sports gambling in their own states.
Public Racetrack Casino sportsbooks
West Virginia boasts four tracks for Thoroughbred and/or greyhound racing. All of these expanded to “racinos” after the state legalized casino gambling in 2007.
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races – Charles Town, WV
Hollywood Casino was the first WV brick-and-mortar to open its sports betting operation. The book had a soft-launch on August 30, 2018, with the official opening the next day on September 1. This fortuitous timing was just before the start of football season on September 6.
The book is run by established sports wagering company William Hill.
In December 2018 it was announced that Hollywood Casino’s operator Penn National signed a deal with DraftKings to launch an online betting site in West Virginia.
The physical location is very close in proximity to both Virginia and Maryland. It is also a reasonable drive from Washington D.C.
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort – Chester, WV
Mountaineer also opened a William Hill Sports Book, on November 21, 2018. The property was late to seek a license but moved quickly to launch.
The resort is right across the river from Ohio, but also very close to Pennsylvania.
An online option is not expected before the summer.
Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack – Wheeling, WV
Wheeling Island launched a sportsbook on December 27, 2018, alongside sister-property Mardi Gras. The same day, parent company Delaware North released the Mionmi-powered BetLucky mobile sportsbook, affiliated with both casinos.
The hotel is situated very close to the western edge of Pennsylvania and walking distance to Ohio.
Mardi Gras Casino & Resort – Nitro, WV
Mardi Gras was acquired by Delaware North early last year, and as such opened its book on December 27 at the same time as Wheeling Island and BetLucky.
The resort is located near the Ohio border.
Private club sportsbook
In addition to the four public racinos, West Virginia has one additional casino location at a luxury resort in the Allegheny Mountains
The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, WV
The Greenbrier resort opened its Casino Club in 2010, the only brick-and-mortar in the state not attached to a racing operation. As the casino is considered a private club it is not open to the public and access is only allowed to guests of the hotel.
On September 14, 2018, the Greenbrier opened the state’s second operational sportsbook with the help of industry experts FanDuel, who should also be running the upcoming online book (no timetable set).
The resort is physically very close to the Virginia border.
Future sportsbooks in West Virginia
At this time additional physical sportsbooks are not really on the radar, as there are no remaining properties eligible for new licenses.
However the online landscape is still pretty open, as each casino has the right to launch up to three skins on its license, so if online sports betting takes hold in the state we will likely see many more apps on the way. West Virginia is also currently looking into expanding gambling options to include online casinos and/or poker, which could potentially affect the proliferation of sites.
At the very least DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill are all expected in the coming months.
Specific regulations, the tax rate, and revenue results
West Virginia’s sports betting law was in place prior to the PASPA decision, allowing the state a quick transition to implement development.
Key specifics of the law include:
- The Lottery Commission oversees all licenses and approvals. The Commission selects a separate independent professional to regularly assess security and system integrity.
- Licensing fees were set at $100,000, initially and annually. All operators must maintain a cash reserve equal to the current pool (and not less than $500,000) to cover liability.
- Up to three different branded sites and accompanying apps will be allowed for each license, so long as they clearly indicate the name of the license holding casino.
- The tax rate was at a static 10% on revenue, whether land-based or online. This is a very reasonable amount closely comparable to the extremely successful NJ market, and far less than certain other states are attempting.
- No integrity fee was included in the law, despite a big push during the final parts of the legislative process.
These requirements are not lax, but definitely amenable. Overall the regulations have made it fairly easy for the few potential licensees to begin operations.
In particular, the tax rate is very favorable: 10% which is about the same as NJ’s rate (land-based, online is slightly higher), and drastically lower than the 36% in neighboring Pennsylvania (still not even the highest, some small states demand 50%).
Some legislators have questioned if the low tax rate was far too generous. So far revenues have not been fantastic, but the market still shows growth potential. In particular, the Hollywood Casino sportsbook, which was the first to open and enjoys proximity to Washington D.C., has shown favorable numbers.
West Virginia is a very small market with a state population of only 1.8 million people. This limited pool of bettors means the nascent operations can be more prone to the occasional bad week with negative revenues posted. The state is also very mountainous and even short travel on its roads can be time-consuming, so reaching land-based locations is not necessarily easy. Two of the physical sportsbooks are situated close to Pittsburgh, which could have meant visits from a lot of western Pennsylvanians if the Rivers Casino there had not also launched its own operation mid-December 2018.
Altogether this means that getting online sportsbooks running strong quickly is vital to the market’s success. A launch soon by either DraftKings or FanDuel could likely make all the difference.
Nearly half a year in, WV has seen total handle of nearly $78 million, with revenues of $7.5 million (and $750,000 in taxes). Optimistic projections of net tax revenues for the state of $5.5 million in the first full year of sports betting, so here’s hoping that online rolls out fast.
A brief history of West Virginia’s path to sports betting
In 1992 Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Amendment (PASPA) effectively banning full-service sports betting nationwide (except for in Nevada along with a few minor grandfathered examples).
Several states have long objected to the restriction, but most especially New Jersey which attempted for years to regulate its own sports wagering option. The battle began in earnest in 2009, with legislation that finally became law in 2012 before being shut down in the courts.
It took until 2017 for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the case, by which time the environment seemed to be very favorable for PASPA to be overturned. West Virginia moved quickly in anticipation of a positive outcome; the state was one of five that signed an amicus brief in support of NJ in November of 2016 (to be joined by more than a dozen more over the course of the following year.)
In March of 2017, a West Virginia state delegate named Shawn Fluharty introduced a bill to declare PASPA illegitimate and legalize sports betting under the authority of the State Lottery Commission. After several attempts a version of this legislation passed in early 2018.
Fluharty believed it was very likely NJ would win its case, and that by having legislation in place already West Virginia would gain a distinct economic advantage by being one of the first states to develop a working market for sports gambling.
This extremely correct assessment came to pass. SCOTUS struck down PASPA that May 2018, and with the launch of the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on August 30 of the same year, West Virginia became the fifth state in the nation to offer legal sports betting.
By the end of the year there were five physical locations open, as well as one online and mobile app thanks to BetLucky.com. Thanks to both this online access and the proximity of the sportsbooks to the borders of well-populated neighboring states, and the coming inclusion of online casino sites in addition to sportsbooks, West Virginia is now a promising growing market in the young industry.