West Virginia became the fifth US state to offer legal sports betting in August 2018. Three months later, in December, it became the third state to offer online sports betting.
Three months after that, on March 6th, 2019, sports betting at two casinos and the only online sportsbook in West Virginia abruptly, and without warning, stopped.
For the week ending March 9, which includes only 5 days of betting for the shuttered books, total handle dropped to its lowest point since early December.
In the most recent week of reporting, the three remaining retail sportsbooks at WV land-based casinos posted over $350,000 in revenue. That is a solid figure considering we were down to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament.
The good news is revenue is improving since that first week. Unfortunately, most of its recent gains come from March Madness betting. It will be interesting to see how sports betting revenue fares as we head into a more mellow sports betting calendar.
A look at WV sports betting without mobile
In the first week following the shutdown overall sportsbook handle fell by 18% from the previous week and revenue fell by a whopping 66%.
However, cumulative sportsbook revenue was still positive. The positive revenue was due almost entirely to the performance of Hollywood Casino Sportsbook.
The second week after the closure, the week ending March 16, was not great for the WV sports betting market. Overall handle dropped an additional 9% from the previous week and revenue fell by 12%.
As in the previous week, Hollywood Casino saved the day posting $265,118 in revenue. FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier helped a little with $28,520 in revenue.
Week three after the shutdown was the charm, thanks to March Madness. The week ending March 23 saw handle increase by 55% and revenue a whopping 248% from the previous week.
More than $8.5 billion is said to be wagered each year on March Madness. The opening weekend of the tournament has 48 games to wager on which makes it a big week for sportsbooks wagering.
Once again Hollywood Casino was the vanguard in handle for the week. The Hollywood sportsbook took over $3 million in wagers. In fact, Hollywood’s handle was larger than the entire WV market from the previous week.
For the first time since opening, Mountaineer Sportsbook posted more than $1 million in handle. This represented a 31% increase over its best week. The Greenbrier posted its best week in handle in 13 weeks taking in over $200,000.
The most recent numbers for the week ending March 30, unsurprisingly, showed lower numbers than the first week of March Madness. Instead of 48 games, the second week of March Madness only had 12 and the lack of betting options showed.
Total handle was 22% lower from the previous week and revenue was down by 55%.
Hollywood casino continued to be the largest handle and revenue generator. Hollywood attracted $2.4 million in bets, it’s second largest in three months and $324,388 in revenue.
The Greenbrier also had a solid week with a more modest $389,118 in handle, its best by 8% since opening.
When will WV online sports betting be back?
Getting online sports betting back to West Virginia will take some time
The announcement makes it seem unlikely BetLucky Sportsbook will return the state. Delaware North is now in the search for a new partner to power its two sportsbooks and bring mobile sports betting back to the state.
In its statement, Delaware North said,
“We are evaluating all options to once again provide sports wagering services, and we want our customers to know that identifying and implementing a solution could take several months or longer.”
Delaware North isn’t the only game in town, though.
DraftKings Sportsbook is well placed to begin online sports betting. The company partnered with Hollywood Casino late last year to bring its mobile sports betting app to West Virginia.
DraftKings is well regarded and has a solid history as a top-end online provider. Additionally, it has experience in New Jersey offering an online sportsbook. DraftKings is awaiting regulatory approval but there is no timeline in place for its launch.
William Hill is well established in Nevada and New Jersey and is currently partnered with Hollywood Casino and Mountaineer.
FanDuel partnered with The Greenbrier for its retail operations and is also likely to come online sometime in the future.
Right now, though, the West Virginia Lottery Commission, the regulator of WV sports betting doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to launch more online sportsbooks.
Lottery Director John Myers wants clarification on the recently-revised Wire Act opinion before moving forward.
“We are doing everything we can to try and work through that [the new Wire Act opinion]. We’ve been working through our national organization to try and get some idea on how the DOJ decision is going to come down.”
There was criticism about the lengthy delay of the initial rollout of sports betting. It appears West Virginia sports betting is back in that same boat.
So when will WV online betting be back? Let’s just say we aren’t willing to bet on a timeline just yet.