As West Virginia awaits news about online sports betting, the process hasn’t only angered bettors. Del. Shawn Fluharty (D) spoke on Tuesday about his frustration with the process.
“At this point, I would say mobile sports betting has continued a disturbing trend in West Virginia where the legislature passes a law and those responsible for implementing the law drag their asses. I’ve seen little to no interest from state regulators in getting mobile sports betting up and running. They have shown zero urgency.”
A lack of mobile sports betting, he says, has proven costly for state coffers. Other states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada have seen significant revenue flow into the state.
Fluharty also questioned West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers’ ability to complete what the legislature had enacted. Sports betting and online gaming bills had significant bipartisan support when they passed.
“West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers described sports betting as a ‘pain in the butt’ recently. That sounds like a lack of leadership at the regulatory helm to me. As a result, we continue to lose money that the state fully expected to be receiving by now.”
Frustrated waiting for online sports betting to return
With the football season fast approaching, including WVU football, casinos and the state are missing sports betting revenue opportunities. After a slow rollout last year, Fluharty believes the current dilemma isn’t a good sign for the state’s regulators.
Fluharty was one of the driving forces behind legalizing WV sports betting and online casino gambling legalization efforts.
It seemed unlikely a year ago that West Virginia would be in this predicament. As Fluharty notes, the state was the first state to pass sports betting legislation in 2018, prior to PASPA even being overturned by the Supreme Court.
Today, two live sportsbooks remain closed and a relaunch of mobile betting remains elusive.
Fluharty, rightfully so, is exasperated:
“Here we are entering football season in 2019 without a mobile sports betting platform. It doesn’t help that the one mobile platform we had, which everyone would agree was subpar when it rolled out, is currently offline due to litigation surrounding a contract dispute.”
Years since the passage of automatic voter registration, medical cannabis and mobile sports betting by the @wvlegislature and literally none of that is available. How do those responsible for implementation still have jobs? Heads need to roll. #wvpol #AlmostLastWV
— Shawn Fluharty (@WVUFLU) August 13, 2019
Fluharty believes regulators are holding up the process.
“So, at the end of the day, I am beyond frustrated. Usually I can point the finger at the legislature for our failings, however, the legislation is sound and being emulated in other parts of the country. Those responsible for getting it done are failing us at all levels.”
Bettors want their online sports betting back
The delegate isn’t alone in his frustration. Not only are West Virginians not betting online yet, but some are driving across the border to Pennsylvania to wager.
Many West Virginians have taken to social media to express their disappointment. That ire includes the closures of the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island books and that none of the major online books are available yet.
— P.J. Smith (@PatrickJSmith5) July 23, 2019
Really frustrating. Other states seem to release info about what is going on. Why the big secret in WV?
— Mark (@juw24620889) August 12, 2019
And while West Virginia passed legal sports betting last year and is just sitting without a mobile option.
— Chris Cernoch (@ChrisCernoch) July 29, 2019
Currently, West Virginia has three legal and active sportsbooks:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
That doesn’t do a lot of good for a state as rural as the Mountain State.
Several bettors have said they know of people using underground bookies or offshore sites in the meantime. The legalization effort was an attempt to curtail much of that, bringing much-needed revenue to the state instead.
Xavier Jefferson, 26, lives in Fairmont and works as a salesperson. He attended WVU and made more than 500 bets on the BetLucky app before it shut down.
His action was curtailed and that’s certainly been unwelcome, but he never expected the situation to last this long. Like many in the state, he lives too far away from a legal sportsbook to make betting worth the trip.
“We are very frustrated,” Jefferson said of himself and some betting friends.
“I’m just impatiently waiting for a legal mobile app to open back up, but the majority of my friends are using overseas apps or betting through their guy until West Virginia gets a mobile app back. We aren’t driving to a brick and mortar casino because they are too far away.”
PlayWV reached out the WV Lottery for comment but did not receive a response prior to the publication.