West Virginia Sportsbooks
To no one’s surprise, West Virginia’s sports betting looks quite strong even though it is fresh off the boat. In the first three weeks of its inception, sportsbooks in West Virginia have taken in nearly $3.4 million in wagers. Even more surprising is the amazing turnover of nearly one million dollars in winnings for bettors across the state. The largest sportsbook in West Virginia right now is the Hollywood Casino’s William Hill sportsbook that opened at the end of August.
PASPA REPEAL OPENS DOOR TO SPORTS BETTING
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, of 1992 was enacted in order to ban sports betting or wagering of any sorts. This piece of legislature ensures that people will not bet in public, and casinos will not take any type of bets relating to sports. However, all of this changed in March 2018 when the state enacted a law on sports betting. This law allowed any and all individuals above the age of 21 to bet on any sport of their choice, at any regulated and licensed establishment of their choice.
This law was enforced after the Supreme Court repealed PASPA. After the repeal, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing sports based betting and gambling as Justice Samuel Alito said that the federal ban infringed on the sovereignty of the state, something that the United States constitution always guarantees.
West Virginia Sports Betting Begins
In July 2018, West Virginian government officials sat on a set of emergency rules for 18 days (July 9 – 21) to allow sports betting in the state in time for the NFL season. Despite this hiatus, the Governor’s Office did not make any changes to those rules. In fact, Governor Jim Justice at the time advocated “for adding integrity fees to be paid to professional sports leagues, event though the Legislature had soundly rejected such fees,” according to Phil Kabler of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Sportsbook lounges were also allowed to set up temporary locations for up to nine months before the next step, which was licensing casinos as well as other independent contractors to offer this service. For the licenses, they have an annual fee of $100,000. While physical, brick-and-mortar locations opened for NFL betting in September, mobile/online betting is expected sometime in 2019.
Place your bets! The @WilliamHill Sports Book at Mountaineer Casino is now open!
— Mountaineer Casino (@mtrgaming) November 21, 2018
It’s important for the state to do increased testing to ensure geo-location system(s) are working properly so that those only located in West Virginia can place wagers. Lottery counsel Danielle Boyd said that the Lottery was working with counterparts in Mississippi, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey to “enter into memoranda of understanding for integrity monitoring so that the states will share information about any unusual or suspicious sports betting activity.”
WEST VIRGINIA SPORTS BETTING TAX
West Virginia has just a 10 percent tax on sports betting as opposed to Pennsylvania’s 36 percent rate as well as a $10 million licensing fee, making West Virginia a much easier location to house this product. West Virginia officials released the official set of rules for sports betting in the state to the public.
“The West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act gives the Lottery Commission the power to promulgate emergency rules setting up the sports betting system any time before Dec. 1, after which the agency will need to submit rules through the normal rule-making process,” according to Steven Allen Adams of the Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register.
“The Lottery’s emergency rules seem to provide a very thorough, thoughtful approach to ensure secure implementation of sports betting in West Virginia in a manner that also optimizes commercial opportunities and revenue generation,” said Delegate Shawn Fluharty of Ohio.
Now, casinos can submit requests to Lottery for “immediate commencement of sports pool or online sports pool operations,” per Adams. The license fee is still $100,000 and good for one year, but now casinos have 270 days to meet the rules or their permit can be pulled all together.
WHERE CAN YOU BET IN WEST VIRGINIA?
With the federal ban out of the way, citizens of West Virginia can now bet and gamble on outcomes of sports to their heart’s content. That being said, one of the major issues that people are facing as a result of this decision is where to go to bet. Seeing how it hasn’t been very long since the federal ban has come down, people don’t have a lot of places to go to test their luck. The #1 West Virginia sports betting app is FanDuel Sportsbook WV. Once again the main competition in state will come from DraftKings Sportsbook and eventually the William Hill Sportsbook app.
There have been certain talks about a mobile app for sports betting coming to West Virginia. The Hollywood Casino has made an official statement that they will be coming up with West Virginia’s very own mobile sports betting app. The company in charge of the app will be William Hill US, which also has the casino’s retail operation under their wing. If the name of William Hill sounds familiar, that is because they are also behind the mobile betting app in New Jersey, which has garnered significant praise.
Casinos can now contract third-party app developers for their online/mobile wagering, but there must be systems in place—geo-location—to ensure bettors are within the confines of the state. A prime example is the Greenbrier Casino, who recently partnered with FanDuel as its vendor.
Annually, casinos will need to have “system integrity and a security assessment” prior to starting operations by an “independent professional.” Even with all of this, Justice is adamant about the integrity fee that would be paid toward the professional sport franchises. “The Justice administration may continue to push the fee…but no matter how many times they revisit it, they will continue to be met with the same unequivocal opposition from the Legislature and the citizens of West Virginia,” said Fluharty. “We are tired of out-of-state interests dipping into our state coffers and I will not stand for it,” he continued.
A complete and comprehensive report of the rules can be found here.