Breaking It Down: A Closer Look At The Initial WV Online Sports Betting Figures

Posted on September 12, 2019 - Last Updated on September 20, 2019

With mobile betting now live and football season underway, the West Virginia Lottery released sports betting revenue numbers over the weekend. The start of the college football betting season produced strong revenue numbers and the NFL should add to that.

For the week ending Aug. 31, handle reached almost $4.5 million. That’s a jump of almost $2.5 million from the previous week – certainly a positive sign.

Even more positive is the $649,000 in retail sportsbook revenue plus an additional $25,000 from just a couple days of online sports betting in West Virginia.

Football season will also be good for state tax revenue with more than $67,000 heading to government coffers. That’s $19,000 more than the previous week.

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The outlook for mobile betting

While those mobile numbers look paltry, it’s important to note that it was the first week that West Virginia online sports betting apps were available. FanDuel Sportsbook only launched in the market on Aug. 26 and DraftKings Sportsbook launched two days later.

That gave both platforms only a few days of operation for the state’s official revenue report.

Along with limited time in the state, there has also been limited exposure to bettors. A legal mobile betting option hasn’t been available since the BetLucky app closed in March. Mobile has been out of sight, out of mind for months.

There were also some launch issues that may have hurt those first few days during that launch phase. Many bettors didn’t realize FanDuel built a completely different app for the state.

There were also a few kinks to work out in regards to geolocation. Some bettors reported errors within the state not allowing them to wager. With both apps now fully launched, those mobile handle numbers should increase.

Football and mobile betting

Now with the NFL and college football seasons underway, WV bettors have plenty of wagering options. Football remains the most popular betting season and plenty will be bet on NFL action throughout the fall and winter.

A look at the BetLucky app might offer some insight into the potential for the market. The app reached peak football season handle during the week ending Jan. 19, bringing in almost $123,000.

The platform debuted on Dec. 29 with handle regularly in the $25,000 to $80,000 range during its existence. BetLucky saw nice handle numbers again right before March Madness, with $141,000 for the week ending March 2.

BetLucky was then shut down in early March and mobile was gone for months. Now, FanDuel and DraftKings both bring some advantages to the market that BetLucky may not have had. A few of those include:

  • Proven brand identities – This should help get the word out in the state about mobile betting. Many bettors are already aware of the two companies as leading daily fantasy sports platforms. Some of those may now transition to sports betting also as they have in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • Marketing push – Along with brand awareness, it’s a good bet both companies will bring an advertising push to West Virginia. That should help educate those in the state about their options.
  • Wider betting options – Some bettors criticized BetLucky for not offering a complete betting experience. The app also didn’t offer true 24/7 wagering. Instead, the online sportsbook had regular “office” hours. FanDuel and DraftKings won’t have those problems.

Inside the FanDuel and DraftKings numbers

Both platforms going live before football season offers a chance for continued growth. Handle isn’t broken out by retail and mobile, but revenue is. Here’s a look at mobile betting revenue from that first week:

Obviously, the FanDuel number was a tough start in the market. An early 6-point betting line on the WVU game is believed by some to have been the culprit. With plenty of action bet on the Mountaineers, a 7-point win made the game a lopsided affair for the book.

One challenge for online wagering may be the early-season struggles of WVU. The team has started 1-1 with its lone win coming over FCS team James Madison (20-13). The Mountaineers were trounced on Saturday 38-7 by Missouri.

Will bettors in the state continue to bet the Mountaineers? It will be interesting to watch weekly revenue totals in the coming weeks.

Hollywood and the retail betting market

When it comes to retail watering, Hollywood still leads the pack. Here’s a look at overall handle from WV sportsbooks for the week ending Aug. 31:

With mobile wagering now legal, it will be interesting to see if Hollywood will remain as the handle and revenue leader. Conveniently located near Washington D.C. and Baltimore, the property has now topped $100 million in total handle.

That location should allow the property to retain its position in the market. Mobile wagering through the DraftKings sports betting app offers an added revenue stream in the rural state.

Reaching the $200 million handle mark may prove easier in the state now with an online sports betting option. That includes throughout the entire football season.

Despite competition from the FanDuel sports betting app, bettors from across the state should be able to wager with Hollywood getting a nice chunk of that.

Sportsbook closings remain a challenge

A continued challenge in the retail market remains the closure of the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras sportsbooks. Both properties are managed by Delaware North, which had partnered with BetLucky.

With the app’s closure and ensuing shuttering of the two properties’ sportsbooks, that has left a void in the market. Mobile wagering should help alleviate some of that.

But bettors in the far northern part of the state (Wheeling) and central (Charleston area) still don’t have a retail option. That will continue to hamper statewide handle even with a mobile option.

In an August interview with PlayWV, West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers noted that Delaware North is working to resolve this situation.

“I have been told by Delaware North management that they are negotiating to replace their initial system, but we have not received any plans or requests from them.”

With growing numbers and mobile betting now in place, the WV sports betting scene is showing signs of life again. That’s good news as college football enters its third week of action and the NFL moves into Week 2.

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Sean Chaffin

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, PokerNews.com, HoldemRadio.com, and other platforms.

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