West Virginia Sports Betting

West Virginia legalized sports betting in March 2018. At the time, a federal ban on sports betting was still in place throughout the United States.

However, on May 14, the US Supreme Court awarded the prescient lawmakers by striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as unconstitutional. With the ruling, the Mountain State could proceed with its sports betting aspirations.

Where can I bet on sports in West Virginia?

At this point, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. As of Sep. 1, the largest casino in the state is also the only one to offer a sportsbook to patrons.

So far, the lone sportsbook in the Mountain State is doing quite well. Casino management reported $640,000 in handle during the first four days of operation.

By virtue of the launch, HCCT became the nearest sportsbook to Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. Both cities are less than an hour’s drive to the property.

Which casino in West Virginia will be next to open a sportsbook?

It’s hard to say, but probably the Casino Club at the Greenbrier Resort will be next. The only private casino in America has already secured a partnership with FanDuel Group to operate its sports betting facility.

FanDuel has already received its permit to operate in West Virginia. So, the only hurdle for the exclusive resort is logistical, it seems.

However, news is difficult to obtain from the Greenbrier due to its unique situation. So, sports betting could occur in White Sulphur Springs at any time.

How about the rest of the properties?

There are three other casinos in West Virginia that could potentially offer sports betting to West Virginia residents and visitors. Of those three, two are showing affirmative signs that they are progressing towards that goal.

Both Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes and Wheeling Island Racetrack-Hotel-Casino in Wheeling are owned by gaming operator Delaware North. As sister properties, they tend to move in tandem with each other.

In that vein, both casinos have simultaneously applied for and received their license to operate sportsbooks in West Virginia. However, neither has cut the ribbon on their respective facilities yet.

Mardi Gras, for its part, has reportedly had ongoing construction since July 2018. Wheeling Island hasn’t been quite as forthcoming with information, but the casino did open a sports bar onsite on Aug. 31.

That leaves the Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack as the fifth property in West Virginia that could offer sports betting. Though the casino is owned by large operator Eldorado Resorts, there has not been much news about the property in the northern tip of the state.

So far, the Mountaineer has yet to apply for permission to operate a sportsbook. There is also no mention of any sort of strategic partnership, although Eldorado has a long relationship with European gaming giant William Hill.

The only other news involves DraftKings. The daily fantasy sports and sports betting company has also applied for and received permission to operate in the Mountain State.

However, at this time, the site has not found a partner to bring its products indoors. Regardless, state lottery officials remain steadfast that they expect all five casinos to open sportsbooks by the end of 2018.

West Virginia’s law also allows for mobile sports betting. Residents and visitors to the Mountain State will be able to wager from anywhere within state lines.

Will West Virginia have online sports betting?

Yes, West Virginia will allow the above casinos and racetracks to offer online sports betting and mobile apps for bettors who are physically located within the West Virginia border.

Obviously, Hollywood Casino is the most likely to produce an online product first. However, the permits allow for online sports betting to rise from the company’s license, so any of the licensees could get in on the action soon.

Who can bet on sports in West Virginia?

Anyone over 21 will be able to bet sports.

Can I play daily fantasy sports in West Virginia?

Yes. Almost every DFS operator is active in the state.

In 2016, the state attorney general issued an explicit statement to that effect. He declared that state law definitively does not prohibit fantasy sports contests.

What government agency will oversee West Virginia sports betting?

The West Virginia Lottery Commission will be in charge of sports betting enforcement in the state.

How did West Virginia get here?

West Virginia may seem a rather unusual state to be at the forefront of sports betting advancement. The unassuming state is perhaps better known for its natural beauty and moonshine.

However, a committed legislative body and a feisty attorney general have pushed against the federal ban on sports betting since 2016. Attorney General Patrick Morrissey filed amicus curiae briefs in support of New Jersey’s Supreme Court case that contained some of the strongest anti-PASPA language ever submitted.

Subsequent bills from the West Virginia legislature issued direct rebukes of the federal ban. For example, a bill introduced in 2017, H 2751, contained the following passage:

§29-25A-2. Authorization of sports betting notwithstanding federal prohibition
Whereas our State Attorney General is challenging the usurpation of the federal government of state authority to regulate sports pool betting and has articulated in the briefs of the State of West Virginia in Christie v. NCAA, 16-476, U.S. Supreme Court, that the U.S. Congress has no power to prevent state governments from authorizing sports betting as a form of gaming and therefore, the Legislature finds that it is reasonable and appropriate, for the State of West Virginia to proceed with legalizing sports pool betting pursuant to this article.

Such explicit pushback is quite uncommon in state sports betting laws. However, both the legislature and AG Morrissey made it clear that PASPA was an affront to the principles of federalism and states’ rights, and therefore inappropriate under the Constitution.

In terms of a timeline for West Virginia’s steps toward legalization, most events occurred in the last 18 months.

2018

Rep. Fluharty reintroduced his bill in January 2018. This time, state Sen. Baldwin introduced a matching bill, S 106, in the West Virginia Senate.

Both bills got stuck in committee. However, a third bill, S 415, ended up being a winner.

S 415 was a more comprehensive and detailed bill. It set the sports betting licensing fee at $100,000, and pegged the tax rate at 10 percent of revenue.

The Senate quickly passed the bill. The matching House bill (H 4396) moved out of committee.

Legislators found themselves in a brief standoff with lobbyists from the five major sports leagues. The leagues wanted the bill to include several concessions, most notably a 1 percent fee on handle that would be paid to the leagues.

This fee became known as an integrity fee. However, West Virginia’s legislature was unimpressed, and the Senate bill passed to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk.

Justice chose not to sign the bill. However, he did allow it to become law. So, officially from Mar. 3, 2018, West Virginia was a sports betting state.

2017

In March, Rep. Shawn Fluharty introduced the aforementioned H 2751. The introduction was the first time the subject of sports betting had appeared in the legislative agenda.

The bill established the West Virginia Lottery Commission as the oversight agency for sports betting in the state. H 2751 also provided for a two percent tax on sports betting handle.

The bill ultimately failed in committee. However, H 2751 planted the seed of curiosity in the mind of legislators.

In September, the state lottery commissioned a $160,000 study on the effect of legalizing sports betting in the state. That report estimated that 30 states would have legal sports betting by 2023, including West Virginia.

By then, it was clear which way the wind was blowing, even without a ruling from the Supreme Court.