West Virginia is one of the first states to offer legal online sports betting.
All five state casinos have land-based sportsbooks. However, Mardi Gras Sportsbook and Wheeling Island Sportsbook ceased operations in March 2018. Both sportsbooks are expected to return in the near future. That leaves three active sportsbooks in the state:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier
Each casino is also licensed to offer online sports betting in WV. They have the option to host three skins each potentially creating 15 online sportsbooks in the Mountain State.
Currently, the West Virginia Lottery has approved licenses for three online betting apps:
DraftKings is the only online app to complete the testing phase of the launch process. It is likely DraftKings Sportsbook will launch by the end of May 2019.
Even with the re-start of online betting action so close, many questions about what online sports betting in the state will ultimately look like remain open.
West Virginia was one of twenty states to file an amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court in the case of Christie vs. NCAA, which later became Murphy vs. NCAA.
The case was argued before the Court in December of 2017 and decided on May 14, 2018. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government could not prevent states from legalizing sports betting within their borders.
In anticipation of the ruling, the West Virginia legislature adopted the WV Sports Lottery Wagering Act on March 9, 2018, which became law pending the Supreme Court ruling without the governor’s signature.
The act enabled each of the state’s five existing brick-and-mortar casinos to partner with up to three “skins,” or individually branded platforms, to bring online wagering to West Virginia.
Four of the five casinos have already paid the $100,000 licensing fees to begin operation, while the fifth is expected to do so very soon.
Sports betting options
As these are the first sportsbooks to open in West Virginia, players are likely to find very similar, if not identical, betting options as those available in the online partners’ brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
That is subject to change as casinos begin to partner with multiple sportsbooks. Those partnerships could give players at brick-and-mortar establishments the opportunity to take advantage of the best offerings from each online partner.
The sportsbooks will come with several advantages for those playing online rather than at the brick-and-mortar casinos.
One such advantage is that players will be able to easily navigate between sportsbooks, comparing lines on their computers or mobile devices. Another advantage is that navigating the betting options may be easier on a computer or mobile device than at a physical casino.
New players may find some options – like teasers – confusing in a casino but be more at ease navigating them on websites.
For experienced players, wagering online will likely be faster as there is no need to wait for novices who may be struggling to place their wagers.
Deposit and withdrawal methods
It remains unclear how players will be able to fund and withdraw from their West Virginia online sportsbook accounts. It is possible that different sportsbooks will offer different deposit and withdrawal methods.
The best available guidance may be that of TVG, which has been providing players in the state with the opportunity to bet on horse racing for years. TVG allows deposits via Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, PayNearMe, and BetCash, which requires bank account information.
TVG also offers prepaid cards, though at the time of writing, none of the new sportsbooks are expected to provide them upon launch.
Players will likely be able to make withdrawals through whatever deposit method they use to fund their accounts.
DraftKings Sportsbook in WV
The DraftKings West Virginia sportsbook seems likely to be the best option for novice players. The minimums are expected to be comparably low, allowing players to place bets of just $.10.
The company is also making an effort to demystify the terminology of sports betting for those who aren’t familiar with it. For example, they label moneyline wagers not as moneyline but as “Who will win?”
More experienced players may prefer to shop around – the odds, especially on baseball, will likely lag behind those offered the competition.
New players are likely to receive a match bet up to $200 on their initial wager, though odds requirements may apply.
FanDuel is a partner of Paddy Power, a leader in European sports betting, and they are likely to follow that bookmaker’s lead in many areas.
Players can expect to enjoy an initial $10 risk-free bet with the losing amount refunded if the bet loses.
Although the new site is not likely to feature a traditional loyalty program, it will probably offer a variety of bonuses, such as a $10 free bet when players place five bets of $10 or more, with some restrictions.
William Hill Sportsbook
William Hill is one of the best-known names worldwide in the sports betting industry.
The site will offer wagering on the major North American sports leagues, including college football and basketball, as well as tennis, golf, and combat sports.
William Hill will likely be an excellent option for players who want a traditional loyalty program, and it is expected to offer a 10% bonus on players’ initial deposits.
BetStars is known to American players through its partner, PokerStars.
The site will likely offer a promotion that grants players two free $10 bets when they place their first bet of $20 or more on a bet with minimum 1/1 odds.
Instead of a traditional loyalty program, the site is expected to feature BetStars Challenges, which award players for accomplishing tasks, such as making multiple in-play winning bets on a particular match or in a specific tournament.
Hollywood Casino’s partnership with William Hill will be the first to begin operating on September 1, 2018.
The sportsbook is expected to offer a loyalty program.
New players are likely to receive a 10% bonus up to $50 on their initial deposits and enjoy a traditional loyalty program in which points are accumulated with each wager.
The casino is expected to take advantage of its opportunity to partner with more sportsbooks to enhance its offerings for players in West Virginia.
Local casinos & online sports betting
Local casinos are set to play critical legal and marketing roles in West Virginia sports betting.
All institutional sports betting in the state will run through local casinos. The five existing casinos will hold licenses allowing them to partner with branded sportsbooks. In doing so, they will serve as the conduit between large-scale sportsbooks and players located in West Virginia.
In addition to their vital legal roles in the process, local casinos will also lend their reputations to sportsbooks that may be unfamiliar to those in West Virginia. Each partner will need to disclose what casino it is partnering with on its website.
The land-based casinos also provide an alternative for players who wish to play in person and online.