West Virginia Becomes Fifth State to Launch Legal Sports Betting

West Virginia Becomes Fifth State to Launch Legal Sports Betting

On August 30th, West Virginia soft launched its regulated sports betting market just in time to take advantage of the 2018 NFL college football season that got underway less than a week earlier. According to Danielle Boyd, managing general counsel of the West Virginia Lottery, the first legal bet was accepted at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, making the Penn National Gaming Inc owned property the state’s first official sportsbook operation to go live.

A few days later, on Saturday, September 1, the casino subsequently hosted a larger-scale official grand opening with Joe Theismann, a former NFL and CFL quarterback, as well as College Football Hall of Fame member, on hand to attract a crowd as he opened the sportsbook. As he announced at the ceremony:

“I appreciate what the Supreme Court has done. I think they made a good decision to be able to legalize the opportunity to be able to bet on their favorite teams.”

Official Opening Ceremony

Out of West Virginia’s five casinos, the Hollywood Casino in West Virginia is situated in a prime location that also allows residents in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. to travel to the Charles Town venue in less than an hour. In addition to offering around 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games and thoroughbred horse racing all year round, guests can now look forward to placing bets across a range of different sporting events at the venue.

Placing the first official sports wager on Thursday was Jason Barrett, Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, who bet $50 that the West Virginia Mountaineers (WVU) would win the football national championship set to take place on January 8, 2019. Last season, the Mountaineers finished in fourth place, but success this year would net Barrett an impressive $3,050 on the 60-1 wagering odds provided by the venue’s management services provider William Hill.

Others Casinos To Follow Suit

All of the state’s five casinos have secured sports betting licenses, and are expected to soon join Hollywood Casino and its partner William Hill in offering the full service to state residents and visitors. In June 2018, for instance, Greenbrier partnered with sportsbook operator FanDuel to offer sports betting in West Virginia, with a license subsequently obtained on August 10th. Mardi Gras Casino, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, and Mountaineer have similarly secured licenses to offer sports betting, although they have yet to make an official announcement as to when they expect to launch their sportsbooks.

Fifth Sports Betting State

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down PASPA, paving the way for other state’s aside from just Nevada to start offering the full range of sports betting products. Although Oregon, Montana and Delaware were able to offer a limited type of product under the previous law, in June Delaware became the first state to offer the full sports betting package, followed by New Jersey and then Mississippi.

Interestingly, West Virginia was actually the first state to legalize sports wagering, having passed a bill two months prior to the the US Supreme Court’s ruling. The state has since used the intervening time to ensure that all the boxes have been ticked ahead of launch, and heaping praise on the Mountain State’s nascent sports betting market after its official opening this week, Jason Barrett stated:

“We have really done it right in this state and certainly Pennsylvania and others, if it’s going to be successful in their states, they need to look at what we did and model after us.”

Potential Bonanza

West Virginia charges $100,000 per sports betting license, with a 10 percent tax leveled on an operator’s adjusted gross receipts. According to legislative estimates, the state can expect to generate around $5.5 million in additional revenue during its first year of operation, although the state Lottery has predicted that that figure could actually be as high as $17 million.