Sports Betting on the Horizon in West Virginia

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston

With the National Football League season about to begin, West Virginia has been scrambling to get the sports betting industry started. It is expected that the state will be ready to begin offering sports wagering by September 1, just in time for the NFL season.

Five casinos authorized for service

The State Lottery Commission is working on preparations to allow sports betting in the state as soon as possible. The general counsel of the commission, Danielle Boyd, has said that five casinos have been authorized to offer sports betting, with the launches most likely be spread over the next several weeks.

It has been estimated that West Virginia will be able to generate as much as $5.5m (£4.3m) via taxes on sports wagering during the first year of operations. Over time, that amount is expected to grow significantly, to between $13m (£10.2m) and $18m (£14.1m) a year.

FanDuel and Penn National have both been granted approval to operate sportsbooks in the region. FanDuel will be working with The Greenbrier to offer services while Penn National will be using its Hollywood Casino Charles Town to enter the market.

FanDuel announced its partnership with The Greenbrier Resort in June and, now that approval has been given to the DFS brand to offer sports betting services, the resort will have to pay the $100,000 operator license fee to the state before gaming can begin.

So far, only the Hollywood Casino Charles Town has been approved for licensing and will be the first to launch operations. Danielle Boyd said: “We had hoped everyone would launch at the same time and everyone would be up at the beginning of football season. As we move forward, it appears that we’re going to have sort of a phased launch and it’s going to be a tiered approach. We’re just really excited to see that Charles Town will be ready to launch by September 1.”

Fourth state to legalize sports betting

After the US Supreme Court decided to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May, states began scrambling to pass legislation. West Virginia was the fourth to do so when the state legislature enacted a law in March, in anticipation of a favorable ruling by the US Supreme Court.

The legislation imposes licensing fees on casinos to offer sports betting operations and sets a 10% privilege tax on the adjusted gross sports betting receipts. The law does not include the integrity fee that professional sports leagues are hoping to be paid via states that offer sports betting. The NBA, PGA Tour, and Major League Baseball are among groups that hope to be paid a fee to maintain the integrity of games.

According to VSO News, the rules for sports betting were proposed last month, setting the stage for operators to know just how services should be conducted. This month, it was announced that GeoComply was approved to offer their geolocation compliance services in the state. The geolocation services will be used once mobile wagering is in play to ensure that those taking part in sports betting are located within the state’s borders.

The head of GeoComply, David Briggs said: “West Virginia has been very proactive in their goal to become among the first states to introduce legal online sports wagering and we are grateful for the support they have shown us in the licensing process.”

Mobile and online sports betting will be offered in the future, with the Lottery Commission hoping to have the system set up by the middle of October.