History Behind Legal Sports Betting in West Virginia
West Virginia became the fifth state in America to offer sports betting to residents and people within the state’s borders. It was surprisingly quick to legalize sports betting because it didn’t start the legislative process until 2018.
Many states had bills ready to go and had already legalized sports betting, pending the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) ruling.
In a 6-3 decision in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the PASPA was unconstitutional. The PASPA was passed by the Congress in 1992, and it banned sports betting throughout the United States. Sports betting was expected to bring massive revenue to states, so there was a lot of support for PASPA to be deemed unconstitutional.
In the months leading up to the PASPA decision, members of the West Virginia legislature introduced sports betting bills to prepare for the Supreme Court’s ruling. The 6-3 decision came in May of 2018, and this is when the West Virginia legislature really began considering sports betting in the state.
By August of 2018, West Virginia had officially joined four other states in America to offer sports betting. So far, 15 other states have followed West Virginia in legalizing sports betting.
The first legal bet in West Virginia was placed on Aug. 30, 2018. Since this date, West Virginia sports betting has propelled the state’s economy to new heights. The state approved mobile sportsbooks in the state, but these needed a land-based partnership as well.
This legalized mobile and land-locked sports betting. There were five original partnerships between sports betting companies and West Virginia casinos, but three of these fell apart and ended in lawsuits.
There are currently five casinos that have partnered with sportsbooks in the state. All five offer retail betting, and three offer mobile betting. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, IGT, and William Hill are the companies that have worked their way into the West Virginia betting economy.
Financial History Behind Legal Sports Betting in West Virginia
It’s very surprising that all states haven’t legalized sports betting yet. West Virginia isn’t a massive state, ranking 38th in population with just under 1.8 million residents. This hasn’t stopped the state’s sportsbooks from putting up massive revenue numbers.
In the original bill, West Virginia put a 10% adjusted tax on sports betting revenue. Sports betting was only available in the state for three months of 2018.
The 2018 total saw a handle of $33 million in three months. This allowed the books to collect $5 million in revenue, and with the tax rate, the state collected close to $500,000.
The state considered this a win for the first three months, and the legislature was optimistic about future numbers from the sports betting industry.
Nearly every month in 2019 had a bigger individual handle than the three months in 2018. The biggest handle came in October of 2019 with a total of $37,022,626.
The total handle for the entire year was over $226 million. This allowed the books to collect revenue of just under $20 million, which put $2 million into the hands of the state. This is a solid amount of money considering West Virginia’s size.
The 2020 figures are available through September. This was set to be a record year, but the COVID-19 pandemic did put a dent in the revenue numbers in the sportsbooks.
April, May, and June of 2020 were very small handles, but the state has rebounded since these months.
September had the biggest handle thus far, with a total of $77 million in bets placed. This gave the state close to $500,000 in a single month.
In 2020 through September, the total handle was $251,555,606. This created close to $14 million in sportsbook revenue, with the state receiving close to $1.4 million.
In 2021, the state’s sports betting industry is projected to have its best year yet with what it has done in the late months of 2020.
Sportsbook Apps in West Virginia
West Virginia state law mandates all apps to have a partnership with a land-based casino. There are currently three apps in the state that are available for players.
There were five apps at one point. Two were run by IGT, but these were suspended in March of 2019 due to financial lawsuits. The three current apps are run by DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM sportsbooks.
DraftKings and FanDuel launched in August of 2019. BetMGM was a little slower in the process. Its platform became available in the state in January of 2020.
These three brands have launched their legal betting platforms in multiple states throughout the country. They are three of the most popular brands where any bettors can test their luck on sports.
Each book has a very similar layout. All books give players the ability to wager traditional bets like the moneyline, point spread, and over/under.
Live betting capability is superior on these three apps, unlike state-run apps in other legal states. In addition to this, each book gives players a large number of prop betting options, which makes them top-rated companies throughout the nation.
Since there are three legal books in the state, there is competition to drive traffic to their platforms. DraftKings has done the best in the state thus far, but each app has a solid market of players.
The apps separate themselves with their free play and bonus opportunities. DraftKings has the best bonus program currently. It offers up to $1,025 in free play by matching all initial deposits.
Just for creating an account, players are given a $25 free bet without even making a deposit.
BetMGM offers a deposit match up to $500 and a free $10 weekly bet. FanDuel gives up to a $1,000 refund if you lose your first bet.
Each sportsbook is different, but the best bettors in the state play on all three to garner the most bonus play money. More apps are expected to join these three in the future. This will continue to increase competition but gives West Virginia bettors more opportunities to win.
Land-locked Sportsbooks in West Virginia
All mobile apps that are available in West Virginia are associated with a land-locked sportsbook. However, a land-locked sportsbook doesn’t need to offer a mobile app to take in-person sports wagers.
West Virginia currently offers five retail sportsbooks. They are located throughout the state.
- DraftKings Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Charles Town
- FanDuel Sportsbook at The Casino Club at The Greenbrier Resort
- IGT Sportsbook at Mardi Gras Casino
- IGT Sportsbook at Wheeling Island Casino
- William Hill Sportsbook at Mountaineer Casino
All these sportsbooks are solid, but the Hollywood Casino and FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier stands above the rest of the books for different reasons.
DraftKings Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino is the largest casino in West Virginia. Charles Town is very close to Washington, DC, and Baltimore, so the casino gets a lot of foot traffic from those areas.
This was the first retail sportsbook that was introduced in the state in August of 2018. The most sports bets in the entire state are placed at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The book accounts for close three-quarters of the state’s entire retail sports betting revenue. This is remarkable considering there are five other books.
DraftKings may have the biggest sportsbook in the state, but it’s far from the most unique. The FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier Resort could be unlike all other books in the country.
It’s a private legal sportsbook located at a member-only resort. It’s a luxury resort, and people that are lucky enough to enter the book have to understand that the etiquette isn’t the same as other sportsbooks.
When you walk in, you may not even know it’s a sportsbook. It doesn’t look like anything like a sports bar. Also, don’t forget to show up in dress-code appropriate attire if you’re a resort member.
Other than The Greenbrier Resort, the rest of the sportsbooks are very similar. They have bars, televisions, betting kiosks, and live tellers. They look like classic sportsbooks and provide a great betting energy for people looking to test their luck in West Virginia.
Sports Teams to Bet on in West Virginia
West Virginia has a large sports betting presence in the country. Despite this, it doesn’t have a single professional sports franchise in the state.
West Virginia residents tend to favor the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. This is the closest city to the state that has an NFL team. You’ll also find Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team, and Philadelphia Eagles fans in the state, but they’ll be minute compared to people who support Pittsburgh.
Other Pittsburgh teams like the Pirates in Major League Baseball and the Penguins in the NHL are fan favorites. Despite this, you’ll find more Baltimore and Washington supporters in West Virginia when it comes to MLB, NBA and NHL.
West Virginia law allows people who bet in the state to wager collegiate athletic teams. The fan-favorite college in the state is the West Virginia University Mountaineers.
The Marshall University Thundering Herd are also popular, but the widespread love is not as substantial as it is for the Mountaineers.
The two sports where the most bets are placed on these two teams are football and basketball. West Virginia is a member of the Big 12 Conference in all its sports.
The football team is coached by Neal Brown, who is in his second season as the head coach. In 2019, the team finished with a record of 5-7 and failed to make a bowl game.
The Mountaineers basketball team has a storied tradition just like their football program. The team has made 29 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and has gone to the Final Four twice. The team is coached by Bob Huggins, who is in his 13th season as the head coach.
The Marshall football and basketball programs have not had nearly as much success as West Virginia. They are a member of Conference USA, which is a mid-major NCAA conference.
FAQ for Betting in West Virginia
Is sports betting legal in West Virginia?
Yes. Sports betting was legalized in the state after PASPA was ruled unconstitutional in 2018. West Virginia was the fifth state to enact sports betting in its state, which has been very beneficial to the economy.
Is sports betting legal on mobile sportsbooks?
Yes. There are currently three companies that offer mobile sportsbooks in the state: DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. All three of these apps are associated with land-locked books. BetMGM retail betting at the Greenbrier Resort is temporarily unavailable, but the book is legal on the mobile platform.
Can you bet on college sports in the state?
Yes. West Virginia is identical to Pennsylvania in this regard. Bettors are able to wager any NCAA team that a sportsbook offers. This includes hometown college teams like West Virginia and Marshall.
Are offshore books available in the state?
Yes, but they’re illegal. Never use an offshore book when sports betting is legal in your state because they’re known to give bettors difficulty in many different areas.
Can I make the same bets on my mobile app as if I was at a land-locked sportsbook?
Yes. Since all apps pair up with a casino, you’re able to make the same bets. The companies have the same odds and wager types for their mobile and in-person book.
Do you have to be a resident of West Virginia to use one of its sportsbooks?
No. Anyone can download DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM Sportsbook on their mobile device. You’re able to make an account and look at odds without being in the state.
However, you must be in the state to make a bet and receive your payout. The apps use your phone’s GPS capability to track your location and assure that you’re in the state.
How old do you need to be to place a bet in West Virginia?
West Virginia has some 18-year-old gambling options, but you must be 21 years of age to bet on sports.
Who is in charge of sports betting in West Virginia?
The West Virginia lottery runs sports betting in the state.