The launch of online gambling in West Virginia is close.
After months of what seems like zero progress, it appears as though gamblers in the Mountain State may be able to enjoy the pull of a virtual slot machine by the end of the month.
Although the state has certainly missed out on lots of potential revenue during the coronavirus shutdown, the sooner online casinos in WV go live, the better.
WV lawmakers approved the legality of online casinos and online poker in March 2019. Since that time, there hasn’t been much news available about launching online casinos.
However, that’s changed recently. The West Virginia Lottery filed emergency rules with the Secretary of State in May. Following the filing, a public comment period began which is set to end on July 11.
In last week’s Lottery Commission meeting, the control standards for iGaming were approved.
This was a major step and the final one for the lottery. They decided to combine the regulations for online casinos along with those already in place for online sports betting apps.
Lottery Director John Myers told PlayWV that he is excited about the progress.
“We have had discussions with all of our casinos. We expect one could be in a position to launch in July if their suppliers achieve licensing approval.”
Launching online casinos would be a huge boost for the state’s lottery revenue and budget. Like many other states around the country, WV is facing a financial burden due to the impact of COVID-19.
WV would be the fourth state in the US to offer online casino gambling, the fifth with online poker and the third with online sports betting.
Online casinos in WV
Allowing gamblers in WV to play through online casinos is a massive step for the state. Any way it can make up for lost revenue during these difficult times would be beneficial.
Of course, having the five retail casinos reopened is crucial. These betting operators include:
Although online casinos may not reach the same level of revenue sharing as mobile sportsbooks, they can certainly contribute.
In New Jersey, online casino gaming earned over $85 million in the month of May. Even when retail casinos were open, mobile apps were generating $50 million in revenue per month.
Now with rules submitted, WV is nearing its expansion of online gambling. There is still the procedure of each operator acquiring a license, though.
Online licenses will be valid for five years with a $100,000 fee. Approved operators will pay a 15% gross gaming revenue tax.
While bettors are patiently waiting for online casinos, it might be a little bit longer than Myers anticipates. To date, the Lottery Commission has not released anything in regards to operator license applications.
What might be even more telling is that none of the five retail WV casinos have announced any online gaming or poker partnerships.
Since these things don’t just happen overnight, it appears it would be difficult for casino apps to go live in July.
WV online casino debut
Although it would be nice for online casinos to launch in July, it might not be a realistic timeline.
Once a casino publicizes a new deal with an online gaming provider, the operator then applies for the necessary mobile gaming license.
After that’s approved, operators then typically build the actual products that will release onto the market.
Given that there haven’t been any partnerships announced yet, an August launch date might have a better chance, but we will continue to hold out hope.
More information will become available at the next Lottery Commission meeting. They’re scheduled to meet in-person on July 22.
With Delaware North owning both Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos, bettors should expect to have as many as four mobile gaming platforms.
That means that even if the state must shut down again for COVID-19, it can still bring in online gaming revenue.
The online casinos will join WV online sportsbooks already offered. They include: