The state of West Virginia online sports betting seems stuck in a state of limbo in recent week. However, with the recent Wire Act ruling clearing the way, mobile seems inevitable despite the frustration of bettors with the slow pace.
To date, DraftKings is the only betting app to pass the testing required to launch. The big question now is just when DraftKings will go live in the state. The closest we can come to an answer is by the start of football season.
That is not stopping bettors from betting, though.
One West Virginia bettor recently ventured north to play on a few newly-launched Pennsylvania sports betting apps. The state’s virtual betting windows opened in late May with SugarHouse Sportsbook the first to launch.
Capping Ninja, who shares his sports betting life on Twitter, spoke with PlayWV about his recent trip to Pennsylvania to wager. Ninja is mostly a one-unit bettor of $110. He asked that his real name not be used.
A short trip to wager
A 33-year-old IT technician, business owner, and handicapper from Martinsburg, Ninja spent 10 days betting in the state. Martinsburg is located in the far northeast corner of West Virginia, about a half-hour drive from the Pennsylvania state line.
When it comes to bonuses, Ninja played on both SugarHouse and Rivers mobile apps and was pleased. He immediately liked the $250 bonus on top of his $250 deposit from both sites.
“Both sites are identical and offer anything and everything an online betting app should. The loyalty programs are legit as well.”
The sites also offer rewards programs similar to those one might find in a casino. Ninja said those were a significant improvement on what WV bettors had seen in the BetLucky app.
“Each bet earns you points toward bonuses and chances at spinning a wheel to win free money,” he says. “There is so much good on these sites compared to what was once offered in West Virginia.”
The mobile betting experience
When it comes to sports, Ninja said both apps offered all the major games and action from baseball to NFL futures. The app is live 24/7, something that couldn’t be said about BetLucky, which closed at certain times each day.
“They do have limits on some parlays in the +3500, just as any normal casino would,” he says.
While it lasted, BetLucky didn’t necessarily always earn high praise among bettors. It was the only game in town initially, and customer service complaints were common.
Ninja says the experience is much better with the two apps in Pennsylvania that he tested.
“The support teams are on live chat and can actually help you with anything you need. That’s unlike what was offered in West Virginia – a two-day wait just to hear back about any problem.”
For West Virginians close to the Pennsylvania border, Ninja recommends downloading and giving the apps a shot. He notes that with online sports betting new in the state, it’s an ideal time to take advantage of bonus offers.
“These sites are doing great things and need to be checked out by anyone close,” he says. “Take advantage of that free $250 before it lowers.”
Crossing borders, and the mobile future in West Virginia
The recently-revised opinion caused a ruckus in the online gambling world. With a positive outcome in court, however, there do not seem to be any impediments to begin mobile wagering soon. DraftKings is expected to be the first to get going in the state.
But with football approaching, many bettors are considering their options, including a quick trip into Pennsylvania. Some already have plans.
Mark Paternostro, a 56-year-old Morgantown resident said:
“I’m going to bet mobile in Pennsylvania if West Virginia doesn’t get mobile betting by football season. I’m going to cross the border and sit in my car and make bets. I’ll drive for about 10 miles to a truck stop, very glamorous.”
However, there is not a timetable for the return of online betting. The Pennsylvania option may be a temporary solution for some. It’s also worth noting it will also be sending much-needed state tax revenue to the north.
Live wagering is still available at three of the five WV casinos:
Unfortunately, the state’s rural nature makes a visit to the local sportsbook impractical for many.
“I wish I could,” says Brian Giompalo, who lives in Huntington in the far western edge of the state. “If Ohio or Kentucky would get sports gaming, I can be in either of those states in less than 5 minutes. Although Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Maryland are very close to the West Virginia border, they are all a long way from me.”
That’s a predicament for many bettors in the Mountain State and why online betting is crucial to the viability of sports betting in the state.