“(W)e expect to launch our mobile app, (but) I don’t have a firm date,” said Erich Zimny, vice president of racing and sports operations, in a webinar. “It’s not going to be next week. It’s not going to be 3 to 4 months from now. (W)e hope to get it up and running in the next few weeks.”
If the casino can stick to Zimny’s announced timeframe, West Virginia will become the third state in the country and the since the federal ban was lifted to offer online sports betting. So far, only Nevada and New Jersey allow their citizens to wager on sporting events through their devices.
Though there’s no confirmation, it is almost certain that European sportsbook giant William Hill will provide the technology to power Hollywood Casino’s sports betting app. William Hill partnered with the casino for its land-based activities, so there’s no reason to assume it won’t do the same for the mobile sports betting app.
Hollywood Casino continues to lead the way
The suddenness of the imminent release is a bit of a surprise. Unlike New Jersey, there is no legally mandated moratorium on releasing a mobile sports betting app in West Virginia.
So, all licenseholders can pursue both land-based and online operations. However, of all the West Virginia gambling options, Hollywood Casino is the most likely to move forward with an ambitious plan like this one.
Hollywood is the largest of the Mountain State’s five casinos. It is also located in the far eastern portion of the state, less than an hour’s drive from Baltimore and Washington DC.
Hollywood was the first casino to offer any type of sports betting in the state. It received the first wager during its soft launch on Aug. 30 and held its grand opening two days later.
However, even with its proximity to two big WV cities, the property remains fairly isolated from the rest of the state. Its mobile sports betting app will allow it to reach West Virginians no matter where they live in the state.
West Virginia’s unique geography may also create additional opportunities for a mobile sports betting app to succeed. The state’s thin northern panhandle puts West Virginia lands within reasonable driving distances from cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
A WV mobile sports betting app may finally apply some pressure to the competition
These additional opportunities may spark movement from the state’s other four casinos. So far, online gambling expansion in West Virginia has been marked by more patience and hesitation than other states.
Hollywood itself had nearly three weeks to operate a sportsbook by itself. Even after that time period ended, its only competition is a small resort casino that restricts accessibility to the public.
Two of the other casinos, Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island, secured sports betting permits a month ago but still haven’t opened their operations. Last week, news came out that the debuts of those two facilities are now delayed.
Finally, the Mountaineer, Eldorado Resorts‘ small property in the northernmost tip of the state, has barely made any kind of motions toward sports betting. Though the casino will likely have a sportsbook sometime in the near future, there has been no urgency to that end.
Perhaps a mobile app will draw so much money that the other four casinos will take notice. Or, given how genteel and polite people in West Virginia are, they may merely salute HCCT for its good fortune and continue on their respective ways.