Since the Supreme Court in May struck down a law making sports betting illegal, several states have rushed legislation through to legalize the activity. West Virginia has now become the fourth state where sports betting is actually taking place.
Sports betting in West Virginia
Delaware and New Jersey have already passed bills to legalize sports betting, and West Virginia has now followed suit, ahead of schedule.
The State Lottery Commission worked hard on this issue to ensure that, if possible, West Virginia could have some form of sports betting operative before the start of the NFL regular season. They successfully managed to do so. Five casinos have successfully applied for sports betting licenses.
The estimates of how much the state will gain from sports betting taxes aren’t overly significant, but it will grow over the years. The first-year estimate for state revenue is in the region of $5.5m (£4.24m) in taxes. As more casinos release their sportsbooks and refine their offerings, the revenue is expected to rise to as high as $18m (£13.9m) annually.
Of course, there will be additional benefits for the local economy as sports betting could cause an uptick in tourism levels and job opportunities, which benefit the local economy. A number of partnerships have been created because of the legalization of sports betting in the state.
Penn National, Betfair, and FanDuel have been approved as sportsbook operators in West Virginia. Penn National has partnered with the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town and FanDuel is working with the Greenbrier.
FanDuel had to wait almost two months to receive approval, but finally got the go-ahead and paid the licensing fee of $100,000. In addition to the annual licensing fee for operators, a privilege tax of 10% is levied on the adjusted gross revenue from sports betting.
Although the NBA and MLB wanted the state to introduce an integrity fee, which would be a slice of the sports betting revenue for the leagues, this provision did not make it into the final bill.
The state also plans to allow online and sports betting in the near future. West Virginia has been on the ball throughout the whole process, passing its sports betting legalization bill two months before the Supreme Court had even made its decision, making it the first state to pass such a bill in 2018.
Hollywood Casino sportsbook opens
The Hollywood Casino, which is located at the Charles Town racetrack, accepted its first sports bet on August 30.
The casino had not expected to open for another week or so, but managed to get everything ready in time for the weekend. This makes West Virginia the fourth state to accept a sports bet since the Supreme Court decision. A ceremony marking this grand opening will be held over the weekend.
This first sports bet was a futures bet with a stake of $50 (£38.58). The person bet that West Virginia University (WVU) would win the national championship at odds of 60-1, so the bettor can expect a payout of $3,050 (£2,353) if successful.
The casinos expect that a large portion of the sports bets they handle will involve either WVU or Marshall.
William Hill is a well-known bookmaker in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe that will provide this service at the casino after being granted an interim license at the beginning of August,
Testing by the state regulators began on Monday. It must have gone a lot smoother than expected because the sportsbook opened two days before originally planned.
It is expected that the Greenbrier will be the next launch a sportsbook in the state. This is expected to happen in the week ending September 9. The sportsbook will be operated by FanDuel, which is also in the final stage of developing mobile and online applications.
FanDuel’s main competitor in the fantasy space is DraftKings, which is also received approval to offer a sportsbook and is looking at partnership options. Each casino can partner with up to three different online operators.