What Is Driving the Massive Drop in Handle for WV Sportsbooks?

Posted on April 18, 2019

In the most recent report, West Virginia sports betting revenue drops – a lot.

West Virginia sportsbooks saw a whopping 45% decrease in sports betting revenue this week (week of April 6) compared to the previous week.

This huge drop represents the slowest week since the week of October 13, 2018. At that time, only two WV casinos were operating a sportsbook.

Compared to the highest weekly handle from the week of January 12, 2019, this week’s handle is less than half, a devastating 51% difference.

WV sports betting suffers a huge drop

The drop in sports betting handle is likely driven by two factors:

  1. The absence of mobile sports betting
  2. The conclusion of March Madness

Two WV sportsbooks and BetLucky Sportsbook ceased sports betting operations on March 6 due to a contract dispute. The two books, Wheeling Island Sportsbooks and Mardi Gras Sportsbook, were finally gaining some momentum when it all came to an end.

Given the complexities of the contract issues between the parties involved with providing the online sportsbook, there is no solution on the horizon and BetLucky is unlikely to return to West Virginia.

This is expected to keep WV sports betting numbers down for some time. As sports betting enters a lull, sportsbook numbers are expected to remain marginal.

There are plenty of sports events to bet on but, unsurprisingly, sportsbooks see big increases with big events.

Some WV sportsbooks doing better than others

Not all WV sportsbooks are created equal, and expectedly, there are winners and losers.

Of the three remaining sportsbooks in West Virginia, Hollywood Casino Sportsbook takes the lead in handle and revenue. Hollywood’s handle for the week ending April 6 was $1,721,386.86.

As good as that sounds, $1.7 million represents the lowest handle for Hollywood over the previous five weeks. In fact, 22 of the last 27 weeks have seen a higher handle for Hollywood.

Mountaineer Sportsbook came in a distant second with $572,816.85 in handle. This represents its lowest handle in a month.

The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Greenbrier witnessed less than $100,000 in handle, posting a dismal $91,175.50.

Handle is one thing, but revenue for the casinos and tax for the state is another. After all, casinos are in business to make a profit and the Mountain State, like all states, needs tax revenue to keep running.

To date, WV sports betting has generated over $1 million in tax revenues for the state.

In terms of revenue for the week, Hollywood collected $151,465.70 from its sportsbook of which the WV collected its 10%, $15,146,57.

Mountaineer Casino collected $59,783.20 and the state’s 10% was $5,978.32. The Greenbrier posted a loss of $14,960.00.

Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras Casino who are temporarily out of the sports betting game nonetheless had to settle outstanding bets despite not accepting any new bets. They paid out a combined total of about $2,500.

Sports betting is big business in the US

In addition to West Virginia, there are currently allow for legal sports betting:

  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • Pennsylvania

Not surprisingly, Nevada tops the list in handle which is obviously driven by Las Vegas casinos and its longevity in the space.

Nevada sees about $4.9 billion in handle annually.

Based on recent monthly sports betting totals for each state projected handle for each state can be calculated as:

  • West Virginia: $18.4 million monthly, $220.8 million yearly
  • New Jersey: $205 million monthly, $2.46 billion yearly
  • Mississippi: $36.3 million monthly, $435.6 million yearly
  • Pennsylvania: $16.7 million monthly, $200.4 million yearly
  • Delaware: $15.4 million monthly, $184.8 million yearly

Including Nevada, that totals to about $8.4 billion in legal sports betting handle annually.

$8,400,000,000 has a lot of zeros. That number is a drop in the bucket when compared to the estimated illegal sports betting figures.

According to the American Gaming Association, as much as $150 billion is illegally bet annually.

That is why legalizing and regulating sports betting is so important. Understanding the difference between black and gray sports betting markets is a good place to start.

Of course, the numbers above are just projections.

In fact, the yearly numbers are likely to be larger considering sports betting is sure to become more popular as time goes on. As soon as West Virginia gets mobile sports betting back, its numbers will undoubtedly increase.

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Way Yuhl

Way Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger. Way recently left his position as a Business professor at Clark University to write full-time while traveling the world. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BA in Geography. You can learn more about his travels at nomadingabout.com.

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