This year has been a different already for sports bettors residing in West Virginia.
The state launched its first sportsbook on the web late last month as West Virginia became the fourth state to legalize internet-based wagering. Along with Nevada and New Jersey, the Mountain State joins an expanding business where states allow bets to place bets from players on cell phones or tablets anywhere inside the borders.
Other states are joining in on the changes as Mississippi (allow mobile wagering, but only by players inside casinos) and Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania are likely going to have mobile options within their states here in 2019.
Delaware North launched the betlucky.com mobile app last month. Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston and the parent company of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack also publicized it had launched land-based sportsbooks at both properties. The new terrestrial sportsbooks came after the company had intentionally waited until its online offering went live.
Delaware North gaming division vice president Luísa Woods raved about the ease and convenience of the access to online betting provided by the app in recent a press conference.
“The platform was designed to be flexible, easy to use and reliable, with innovative features designed specifically to engage and entertain U.S. sports fans,” Woods said. “Patrons at the casinos can use the app or the betting tellers in the sportsbooks.”
West Virginia has now become one of the vigorous sports betting markets in the United States with this launch of a mobile market. Laterally with the new sportsbook at the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos, the other three eligible gaming facilities in the state are allowing bets to be made.
Since last September, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has taken bets legally. The Greenbriar Resort in White Sulphur Springs, a private casino started its wager taking right after the Hollywood Casino while the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort launched in November.
West Virginia has expanded its betting options online rather quickly and the casinos have joined in on the action. This is a market that will attract plenty of bettors during the hot times of the sports season including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and more.
The legal sports betting bell passed in early 2018, the West Virginia General Assembly was an overwhelmingly vote and it allowed the state to keep its lead in regional gambling. West Virginia bolstered its casino infrastructure in recent years, urging similar expansions in neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania. Although, a federal ban was still under place, the new legislation allowed West Virginia to take bets as soon as this restriction was taken off.
The Supreme Court overturned the ban last May which theoretically would have allowed players in West Virginia to make bets on the same exact day of the change. Although, it took a few more months for all the new rules to take place.
Governor Jim Justice takes a lot of the blame for the long delay from many criticizers.
Justice allowed the new sports betting bill to come into law without a signature while declining to officially endorse the bill due to what observers considered a true conflict of interest. Justice is the owner of the Greenbriar and was likely looking at a veto override at the time of the decision.
But as bureaucratic government delays prevented its implementation, critics feared Justice was still hoping to amend the bill.
An “integrity fee” from Justice was asked by various officials from major American professional sports leagues. This fee simply amounted to a one percent cut of all the winnings from the bets to be reallocated to the leagues themselves, which they said was essential to shield the sanctity of their competitions. This pitch was rejected by lawmakers at an overwhelmingly rate as they say it unnecessary for the game’s protection and more importantly, a true risk to the government’s own tax revenue potential.
Concerns from gambling stakeholders and legislators were strengthened with a series of delays in the regulatory approval process. An NFL training camp is hosted at the The Greenbriar, also a PGA Tour event. Outside critics had the worry that Justice would yield to the league’s “integrity fee” requests so it wouldn’t threaten his property’s partnerships.
The fears never came to fruition as anything tangible. This “integrity fee” was never passed into legislation or regulation and the West Virginia is still allowed to continue despite months of delays without them in laws.
West Virginia’s growth as a mobile sports betting market arrives at a time that allows them to stay just ahead of its neighboring states. Prior to this the Mountain State saw competition from these states surrounding them and it is likely to happen with the mobile sports betting markets of their own.