Where Do We Go from Here? Looking Ahead To The WV Online Sports Betting Market

Posted on May 2, 2019

West Virginia sports betting received some good news this week for a change. State Lottery officials announced that three more online sports betting operators received licenses to move forward in the state.

The new licensees include:

Currently, players can only wager at the three operational WV sportsbooks after Delaware North ended its partnership with Miomni. The result left Mardi Gras Casino Sportsbook, Wheeling Island Sportsbook, and BetLucky Sportsbook sitting on the sidelines. 

Live sportsbooks include:

WV Lottery director John Myers expressed concern this week about when any new options would be up and running. He believes they will be awaiting a ruling on the Wire Act.

Myers told WV MetroNews:

“There’s been some hesitancy to jump into it but hopefully when we get a decision in the next few weeks they will feel more comfortable in going forward.”

But which mobile companies will launch first in the state?

That’s still an open question. Early launchers have a chance to gain significant market share, especially after many have been abandoned after the BetLucky fiasco.

Here’s a look at what might happen in the next few months.

DraftKings seems likely to launch soon

A major player in New Jersey, DraftKings Sportsbook, expressed the most interest in the WV market in recent months.

In March, through its New Jersey partnerships with Resorts Casino, DraftKings helped generate $7.3 million in revenue.

That includes Resorts partner BetStars as well (revenue isn’t broken down by online provider), but it helped generate the second-most revenue in the state.

DraftKings was the first online sports betting app to launch in New Jersey, going live a full three weeks before the competition. This bodes well for the company and means it could be one of the first to go live in West Virginia.

The company has a partnership with Penn National Gaming in West Virginia, which operates Hollywood Casino Sportsbook.

While Myers expressed some hesitancy about operators launching anytime soon, compliance may seem to favor DraftKings because of their experience in New Jersey.

“We’ve been working on the platform, how it’s set up, where its servers are located, making sure they are complying with the Wire Act. We’ve made a lot of progress there in the last few weeks. Hopefully, it won’t be as long as it has.”

DraftKings is a name people trust, and an early launch will be good for bettors. It will be interesting to see what bonuses and marketing efforts the company will use to acquire customers.

In New Jersey, the company offers:

  • $25 opening a new account just for joining
  • Matching up to $500 on a first deposit

In a state that has experienced some false starts when it comes to wagering, a DraftKings addition would be good for the market. It’s a good bet that they will be coming soon.

FanDuel offers players another opportunity

While it may be a major name in the industry, a bit is less known about FanDuel Sportsbook’s plans in West Virginia.

The company currently offers a live sportsbook through a partnership with Greenbrier, and an online betting option seems a certainty – especially now that it is licensed.

After launching its sports betting option last year in New Jersey, FanDuel has gained major market share. In March, it led the market with $13.3 million in revenue from its partnership with the Meadowlands Racetrack.

That total also includes Meadowlands’ partnership with PointsBet, but that property isn’t yet a major player.

After so much success in the daily fantasy segment, FanDuel has transitioned well into sports wagering. The company has the incentive to launch in every legalized state.

In addition to West Virginia, FanDuel also has plans to launch in Pennsylvania in the near future.

Just as in New Jersey, expect DraftKings and FanDuel to battle it out for market leader in the Mountain State.

To help gain customers, FanDuel will also likely offer aggressive player bonuses. For instance, in New Jersey, the company has a nice bonus for players as well – up to a $500 risk-free bet.

William Hill could be a major player

Longtime sportsbook operator William Hill is in a similar boat as FanDuel. A launch seems likely, but when is still a guessing game.

However, the company has plenty of experience and operates books all over the world including over 100 in Nevada. Its addition to the West Virginia marketplace would be positive as well.

In New Jersey, the company brought in $3.1 million in revenue through partnerships with Ocean Resort and Monmouth Racetrack. That total includes revenue from SugarHouse as well, but William Hill was a large percentage of that.

Many bettors have experienced wagering with William Hill and it will be a welcome addition in the state because players know what to expect. There’s a reason the operator is the top sportsbook in the country.

What’s it all mean for WV bettors?

As a rural state, online betting promises much more ease of use. Since BetLucky shut down in early March that hasn’t been an option.

That led to a significant drop in handle for the state. That’s also a result of the closing of the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island sportsbooks.

What about Delaware North, which manages those two casinos? That situation doesn’t offer much promise for a quick resolution.

The company’s lawsuit against Miomni hampers efforts to return to the market. Delaware North charges that Miomni committed fraud by misrepresenting its ownership of a key part of the BetLucky platform.

Myers told the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

“One of the concerns is whether they have to completely separate from Miomni before they can begin a new relationship.” 

Despite that, West Virginians now seem to have some hope that those virtual betting windows will be back open soon.

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Sean Chaffin

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, PokerNews.com, HoldemRadio.com, and other platforms.

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