Penn National Gaming announced last week some new partnerships with five different sports betting operators:
- TheStars Group
The deal affects the company’s properties in eight states with legal sports betting, including West Virginia.
Penn National owns Hollywood Casino and most of the casino’s online sports betting plans in West Virginia were in place prior to the deal. William Hill operates Hollywood Casino’s retail sportsbook, and DraftKings signed a deal late in 2018 to bring its popular mobile sports betting app to the Mountain State.
While the Penn National deal has a bigger effect on other states, the deal solidifies the third and final skin for Hollywood Casino by introducing PointsBet to the mix. Additionally, The Stars Group has a separate WV access deal with Eldorado Resorts.
What does this mean for online betting in WV?
PointsBet, an Australian company, is already licensed in:
- New Jersey
The company has a unique partnership with TopGolf in the Garden State, branding some of its bars as a virtual sportsbook.
The bars promote the betting app, offering unique onsite promotions and wagering using the mobile app. While there are no TopGolf locations in WV, that idea offers a unique twist on the traditional sportsbook.
Could similar partnerships eventually be in the works in the Mountain State? It’s possible, but the state of mobile betting seems stuck in a quagmire as football season approaches.
Five months after BetLucky closed down, not only is there no mobile option available but Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island sportsbooks remain closed. Rumors have swirled the last few months about another operator opening, but nothing has developed.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel declined to comment on when their platforms would go live. An email to William Hill was not returned.
A similar fate as football season 2018?
West Virginia’s bettors have experienced this kind of rollout before. The Supreme Court overturned a virtual ban on sports betting outside Nevada in May 2018.
The Mountain State was one of the first states to legalize sports betting at its five casinos. State legislators also allowed for mobile and online wagering.
But regulators dragged their feet a bit and retail sportsbooks missed the opening of football season. Instead, only two were live by football season – the Hollywood Casino Sportsbook and The FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier.
Mountaineer Sportsbook didn’t open a book until November.
Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island didn’t open until December. As mentioned, the latter two were shut down in March when Delaware North, operator of both, sued its mobile partner.
That was in contrast to New Jersey, where retail and mobile options were available to begin the season. The industry has thrived in the state with revenue surpassing Nevada in May.
After BetLucky was shut down in March, many expected another operator to fill that void. The slow launch and BetLucky fiasco have cost casinos and the state significant sports betting revenue opportunities.
As a rural state, mobile offers a major opportunity to allow bettors around the state to wager. With time ticking down until football season close, many remain frustrated. Some bettors have even planned to cross into Pennsylvania to wager.
West Virginia Del. Shawn Fluharty (D) was one of the driving forces behind WV sports betting and online casino gambling legalization efforts. In March, he expressed his disappointment with the state of sports betting in the state.
“We finally do something right at the legislative level, which we really don’t have a lot to brag about these days, but we were competitive on sports betting. And then you see this happen and it’s certainly frustrating because from what I’m gathering there’s probably a lot of finger-pointing involved. It’s out of the hands of the legislature at this point.”
Unfortunately, frustrations with the lack of online sports betting continue today.
Deals do not translate into actually betting online
While deals outlining the online betting landscape are encouraging, it doesn’t actually mean anything to bettors still left with a mobile app.
With less than three weeks until the WVU football team kicks off the season, bettors have expressed their frustration in earnest. While sportsbooks have shown solid gains in handle in recent weeks, many sports bettors are still left in the lurch.
Brian Giompalo, 50, from Huntington, has been a sports bettor for more than 30 years. Last week, he stopped by a friend’s to collect from some Week 1 NFL preseason bets. The sports fans in attendance were not happy with the WV situation.
He commented on their discussion of the sports betting situation in the state:
“There were seven guys and me and everyone was irate. There was a ton of animosity towards Mardi Gras because they aren’t replying to or even acknowledging the questions they are being asked.”
Many of the state’s bettors have taken to social media to express their anger at a lack of sports betting options.
— Brett H Clough (@Crett_H_Blough) August 9, 2019
Mark Paternostro is a 56-year-old West Virginia University professor in the school of medicine from Morgantown. He’s also a sports bettor and echoes many others’ comments.
“Most people I know have the same opinion as those on Twitter. People are very frustrated, especially since we’ve waited for months with the hope that it will be ready to go for football season.”
Paternostro believes there’s a market for mobile sports betting in the state. He’s still holding out hope the virtual betting windows open soon.
“I’m really not giving up hope, but looking at alternatives. DraftKings let me deposit money but they still won’t let me make a bet. I’m hoping maybe that’s a good sign.
“But I’ve missed out on opportunities in the preseason already. I was looking at lines for fun and picked a three-team parlay correctly. That’s frustrating!”
Where can West Virginia bet on WVU football?
For now, bettors have three legal active sportsbook options in West Virginia:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort
- The FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier
The West Virginia Lottery has also already approved three online sports betting apps:
There is no indication when online sports betting will return to West Virginia, however. It seems like all the pieces are in place, West Virginia just needs the players to get in the game.