The majority of West Virginia gamblers are recreational players. They play occasionally and play mostly for the social aspect or just to have some fun.
Even so, there is still a small portion of the population, between 1% and 2% of all gamblers that have difficulty controlling how much they play or how much they wager.
West Virginia, and every state that has legal casinos, sports betting, or lotteries, takes gaming seriously and has ways to help those who may have a gambling problem.
The systems, regulations, and assistance offered by those states and casinos are called “responsible gambling”.
Responsible gambling is available to help anyone who has problems with gambling.
In West Virginia, the West Virginia Lottery not only oversees the lottery, but it also oversees racetrack and casino-style gaming, as well.
West Virginia responsible gambling resources
West Virginia addresses responsible gambling through the laws the legalized the activity.
The legal requirements for responsible gaming in WV include:
- Conspicuously posted signage at each casino
- Self-exclusion regulations
- Restriction of minors
Additionally, the Compulsive Gambling Treatment Fund has been established. It is controlled and administered by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
Gaming operations within WV fund the account with contributions between $150,000 and $500,000 annually. The monies are used to support problem gambling initiatives.
Responsible gambling signage requirements
The West Virginia code requires each video lottery retailer to “conspicuously post in the restricted access adult-only facility the telephone numbers of state-approved providers of problem gambling information, treatment, and referral support services.”
Such signage must also include the following warning:
“CAUTION Gambling and playing this machine can be hazardous to your health, your finances, and your future.”
How to register for self-exclusion in West Virginia
A person that has concerns about their gambling habits can request a voluntary ban from West Virginia casinos, including WV sportsbooks.
To initiate a self-exclusion ban, a player can send a written request to the director of the West Virginia Lottery to be added to the exclusion list.
The West Virginia gambling exclusion list restricts individuals from the state’s casinos and all gambling venues, including online sportsbooks and casinos.
In order to be removed from the self-exclusion list, the excluded person must petition the director of the Lottery Commission in writing.
Once an individual places him or herself on the list, the director will decide whether the exclusion should be permanent.
Requirements to restriction minors from gambling activities
West Virginia Code requires that everyone who enters an area where gambling takes place is 21 years of age or older.
The West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association
Some West Virginia casinos take additional steps beyond the legal requirements to ensure responsible gaming by becoming a member of the West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association (WVGRA).
According to the WVGRA’s website, “Promoting Responsible Gaming is a Core Value of Our Members’ Gaming and Racing Facilities.”
The WVGRA addresses these responsible gaming guidelines:
- Underage gaming
- Problems controlling gambling
- Improper alcohol usage and gambling
- Preventing unattended minors
- Educating on problem gambling habits
- Promoting problem gambling services
- Establishing standards for gaming advertising and marketing
Four of the five casinos in West Virginia are members of WVGRA:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack
The only West Virginia casino not on the list is the privately-owned casino, The Casino Club at the Greenbrier.
WVGA members promote responsible gaming through:
- Employee training programs
- Outreach to players
- Player self-exclusion
- Financial restriction programs
- Providing written guidelines for problem gambling
- Using outside experts to help spread the message
- Monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of each program
How to know if you have a gambling problem
The WVGA also provides a guide to help individuals determine if they may have a gambling problem.
Start by responding with yes or no to the following statements:
- You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
- You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
- Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
- You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
- You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
- You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
- You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
- You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
- You have been remorseful after gambling.
- You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
If you answer yes to any of the above questions, consider seeking professional help or advice. Please call the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia at 1-800-426-2537.
WVGA focuses on the well being of children
The WVGA has a focus on children with a commitment “to ensure that our patrons do not leave minors unattended either inside or outside of the facility.”
Part of this program includes posting signage reminding parents and guardians not to leave children unsupervised.
Additionally, WVGA member casino employees receive training to scan for and identify any unattended children. It is every casino employee’s responsibility to report possible unattended children to security while monitoring the child until security arrives.
Paying attention to underage gaming and drinking
The WVGA requires members to ensure that anyone engaging in gaming is 21 years or older. Additionally, anyone purchasing or consuming alcohol must also be 21 years or older.
WV casinos provide employee training to identify individuals under the age of 21 years old who might be trying to enter the casino or purchase or consume alcohol.
WVGA member employees are authorized to question any person gambling or purchasing or drinking alcohol and require proof of age. Employees are also authorized to confiscate any false or altered IDs.
Part of the responsibility once underage drinking or gambling is identified is to inform law enforcement and gaming agents.
Responsible online gambling
In addition to self-exclusion, most online betting apps will also offer a financial limit option to limit the amount a player can bet.
For instance, DraftKings Sportsbook WV tells its players,
“If at any point, you think you’re spending too much time or money on DraftKings, you have the option of taking a break from DraftKings entirely. Self-limiting allows you to still play, however, within the parameters that you set for yourself.”
The self-limit option allows players to limit the amount of money they deposit on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
There is also a way for family members to seek help and even limit a family member’s deposits if they believe someone in their family has a gambling problem.
Online betting apps also recommend installing parental control software to limit a minor’s access from using the website or betting app.
Get help for problem gambling: National Center for Responsible Gaming
The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) funds research for gaming issues and how to best treat gambling problems.
The research focuses on:
- Preventing gambling problems from starting
- Diagnosing gambling problems
- Intervention and treatment strategies for gambling problems.
The NCRG is also dedicated to public education and outreach about responsible gaming.
The NCRG website provides support and referral sources for anyone affected by a gaming-related issue.
Problem Gambling Resources in West Virginia
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
- Gambler’s Anonymous
- Problem Gambler’s Help Network of West Virginia
Finally, if you or someone you know needs help
If you, or someone you know, needs help, please call the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia Helpline at 1-800-426-2537.
You can also call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.