Many sports bettors in West Virginia are stuck in limbo waiting for an online sports betting app to return to the Mountain State.
Those bettors might not be happy to hear the state appears to be moving forward with launching online casinos while sports betting is still a work in progress. Don’t worry, though. It is still one-two years before the virtual pull of a slot machine becomes a reality.
State officials spoke this week about the process and said they hope to have regulations in place by next summer.
Lottery anticipates WV casino regulations by next summer
When lawmakers approved West Virginia online gambling in March, the legislation paved the way for online casinos in West Virginia. It became the fifth state to legalize some kind of online gambling.
It seems within the realm of possibility that the state’s current online sportsbooks will launch casinos when the time comes. That means online casino gamblers can look for:
- BetMGM Casino WV
- DraftKings Casino
- FanDuel Casino
Casino games will likely include:
- Online poker
The WV Lottery was put in charge of regulating the industry as part of the legislation. State lottery director John Myers spoke over the weekend about the process to bring WV online.
“We want to go and visit some states that have that product so we can make sure we are doing it in the right way as well.
“Like everything else, when we were doing sports wagering we were learning new terminology and there’s new ways to set things up inside the casinos. You’ve got differences in the way you set up table games to sports wagering to racetrack video lottery.”
Still waiting for online sports betting in WV
As a rural state, online gambling, including online sports betting, may offer more West Virginians a chance to bet and bring much-needed revenue to the state. Many residents live hours from the closest casino. But the state of online sports betting in WV hasn’t turned out as many had hoped.
Two of the state’s sportsbooks remain closed. The state’s lone mobile betting app was also shuttered earlier this year.
That stems from a tangled mess of corporate litigation and contract disputes between Delaware North (operator of Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island) and Miomni Gaming.
The whole fiasco has left players frustrated and asking, “what’s next?”
The lottery has approved three well-known apps for online sports betting:
We are still waiting to see which online app will be credited with bringing online betting back to the Mountain State.
Fortunately for bettors, there may be some relief in sight.
There is some chatter that FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are targeting a mid-August launch date. That would mean sports betting in time for NFL and college football – the busiest time of the year.
However, neither company will confirm a specific sports betting launch timeline on the record.
Regardless, many are hoping for a more successful rollout with online casinos and poker than what happened with sports betting.
The state of online gambling
Mobile sports betting and online casinos recently launched in Pennsylvania. Several online sportsbooks and casinos are already taking wagers.
Online poker is also expected to launch soon with the state eventually joining the shared liquidity pool with Nevada and New Jersey. With a small population, WV would need to join that group to have any luck with an online poker option.
West Virginia has similar goals with its online gambling launch as Pennsylvania. However, recent comments from Myers about mobile betting have some wondering if he understands the market.
In mid-July, Myers told WVNews.com that sports betting can be a “pain in the butt” and expressed doubts about its feasibility.
“When you look at it — we did $1.14 billion in sales last year, and not even $2 million was from sports betting. That’s less than 1 percent.
“We didn’t really know exactly what we would do our very first year. We’re ending the year close to $1.2 million. I think it’s lower than what we expected, but not as much as what others expected it to be not having two of the casinos operating for part of the fiscal year. We would have seen some additional revenue, I’m sure, although we did get the majority of the football season, which is typically the largest revenue generator.”
Those comments have left bettors in the state frustrated. He fails to recognize the impact of two sportsbooks in the state being closed and no mobile betting option.
Is the WV Lottery missing the point?
Beyond that, Myers doesn’t recognize the popularity of mobile wagering and economic impact in Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Since its launch, Pennsylvania is already seeing the big numbers roll in.
With minimal online betting options in June, typically a slow sports betting month, the state still set a monthly record with $46.3 million in bets. With more sportsbooks now coming online, there is no telling what that figure will look like during football season.
Some West Virginians have promised to cross the border into Pennsylvania to make bets during football season.
While WV has a much smaller population, legislators hope their online casinos and sportsbooks will have similar results.
How will all this turn out in WV?
Online casinos aren’t anywhere near being ready, and mobile sports betting is on hold. For now, All West Virginians can do is wait and hope an online betting option launches before their beloved WVU Mountaineers take to the field on Aug. 31.