Why Is WV Mobile Sports Betting Lagging Behind Retail?

Written By Sean Chaffin on February 26, 2019 - Last Updated on January 21, 2020
WV mobile sports betting growth

The ease of taking out that mobile device and making a wager has become immensely popular in states with legalized sports betting jurisdictions. That certainly includes New Jersey and Nevada.

But since legalizing West Virginia sports betting last year and the first mobile sports betting app coming online in December, mobile wagering has lagged in the Mountain State by comparison.

So far West Virginians are heading to the betting windows rather than whipping out their phones.

Why is that and what will it take to see more of those wagers moved to mobile and online?

A look at other states may offer some answers.

Mobile sports betting at a glance

There’s no doubt that mobile wagering is having a massive impact on the Garden State. In January, mobile sports betting accounted for 79 percent of bets placed, for a total of $304.97 million.

That’s a hefty increase of 76 percent from December. It seems mobile sports betting has become immensely popular with gamblers.

In Nevada, more than $5 billion was wagered in 2018 with WV casinos pocketing $301 million of that. The state doesn’t break down its wagering into specific categories. Although, industry insiders believe that total is more than 50 percent – with most major sportsbooks and online casinos offering mobile wagering options within the state.

Mobile sports wagering has also been approved in Pennsylvania with several expected to go online by the second quarter of this year. Other states are considering adding mobile wagering as well.

West Virginia is an early adopter of sports betting within its borders. Even though mobile sports betting is on the rise, by comparison to the other states, only six percent of WV sports betting revenue came via mobile sports betting in January.

Why is that number so small and what needs to happen to see it grow?

Mobile sports betting is growing

While it may be early in the game, it seems strange that such a larger percentage of sports betting is made on mobile devices in New Jersey and Nevada.

Why doesn’t it have a similar impact in WV?

The simple answer is the number of apps available. Currently, bettors can only use the BetLucky Sportsbook mobile sports betting app. BetLucky provides online sports betting for Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island Hotel.

In Nevada, the casino properties themselves make a substantial effort to get the word out about their mobile offerings. Signage is apparent throughout Caesars properties advertising the company’s sports betting app, and this goes for BetMGM, William Hill, and others.

There are numerous options available for bettors. The same goes for New Jersey. While the Garden State may not have as many casinos throughout the state like Nevada, there has been a significant marketing push throughout the state and neighboring states. That includes not only significant advertising but also efforts to educate potential customers.

So far, those efforts don’t appear to be happening in West Virginia. With 13 online licenses available there is quite a bit of room for the market to grow. More mobile offerings entering the state will surely build on that.

DraftKings Sportsbook, which has partnered with Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races to offer online and mobile sports betting, already has plans to have its app up and running soon for West Virginians, pending gaming regulator approval.

The Mountaineer is owned by Eldorado Resorts, which signed a partnership deal in September with William Hill. It already offers live wagering at the casino, but can mobile offering be far behind?

The casino at The Greenbrier already partners with FanDuel, which runs a live sportsbook at the property. Unfortunately, the company said on Tuesday that it doesn’t have plans yet for mobile sports betting in the state.

More access to WV sports betting

Mobile wagering isn’t just for customers who would regularly make wagers in a casino sportsbook. The 24/7 options and ease of use aspects allows for bettors who might not otherwise head to the book to place a few bucks on a football game or a bet on that weekend’s NASCAR race.

More options will mean more opportunities for the pool of bettors in the state, that includes additional sports, leagues, futures, and the ability to look for different betting lines. It will also mean more people will get in on the action without having to go to a casino.

BetLucky currently offers a decent slate of sports betting options, but competition not only gives customers more options but forces that app to make adjustments and a better pitch to customers as well.

Competition will bring more marketing dollars and produce a better-educated population on how to make wagers.

It’s a safe bet that by this time next year, a few more operators may have moved in the state. DraftKings should be available soon. That alone should grow mobile sports betting numbers. It should be an interesting year for bettors in the Mountain State.

Sean Chaffin Avatar
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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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