Sports betting got underway in West Virginia in July, and mobile/online betting launched in late August. Since then, retail or in-person sports betting had brought in more handle (gross tickets written) than mobile until just a few weeks ago.
This month, for the first time since mobile betting began in West Virginia, its handle surpassed retail betting over one of the state's week-long measuring periods. This is huge news for the future of wagering in the state.
Mobile betting in West Virginia lagged for a while behind retail due to a desire by online operators and providers to be cautious about the placement of system servers in compliance with the Federal Wire Act.
Online wagering was officially legalized in December 2018, but it didn’t come back in full force until the end of August 2019.
According to the most recently released figures by the West Virginia Lottery, mobile betting brought in a record $4,260,572 in handle during the week ending Nov. 9. Retail still had its fifth-best week since launch with $4,088,690, but that only made mobile’s victory all the more impressive.
That handle led to an all-time second-best $576,235 in revenue generated by mobile betting which beat out retail’s $348,870 by over $200,000
That mobile revenue was enjoyed mainly by the two gaming facilities that currently offer and lead the way in West Virginia online betting: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and The Greenbrier.
Retail figures, meanwhile, are boosted by a third major player in Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, which does not offer mobile betting. That makes online betting’s tight competition with and surpassing of retail even more notable since fewer gaming establishments currently provide it.
During the four-week period between Oct. 19 and Nov. 9, retail took in $16,275,961 in gross tickets written compared to $14,729,607 in mobile/online tickets. However, over those four weeks mobile handle experienced a 38.5% increase.
When comparing that four-week total to the total reported for mobile betting during the period between Sept. 21 and Oct. 12, the mobile betting handle increased 31.5%.
Between those two periods, retail betting actually decreased by 1.8%, from $16,305,821 to $16,275,961.
Since the West Virginia Lottery releases its sports betting reports weekly, rather than monthly like Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, those four-week periods are the best way to compare the Mountaineer State to the other two nearby state with legal sports betting.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also have much larger populations (12.8 million and 8.9 million respectively) than West Virginia’s 1.8 million.
But all that aside, West Virginia sports betting is growing steadily.
Pennsylvania’s online/mobile handle increased from $158,154,361 in September to $198,688,269 in October, representing a 25.6% rise.
As one of the first and biggest states to offer sports betting, New Jersey has brought in over $3 billion in wagers since the repeal of PASPA in May 2018.
The Garden State pulled in a record-breaking $487.9 million in handle in October, of which $416,964,519 (85%) was attributed to mobile/online betting. That’s up 11.4% over the $374,246,343 in online handle reported in September.