US Sports Betting Power Rankings: West Virginia Still Bringing Up The Rear

Written By Eric Ramsey on October 26, 2018

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Both sports and sports betting are officially in full swing in the US. The start of football season kicks off a months-long surge in the interest across both industries, with the NFL as king for fans and bettors alike. There’s basketball season, too, and even hockey is starting to move the needle these days.

In the second edition of our sports betting power rankings, we compare the relative strength of the five states with legal, regulated industries.

Revenue is a key metric, for sure, but it’s not the only variable. The location and number of sportsbooks, the status of online/mobile betting and the regulatory landscape merit some consideration, too. This list reflects the overall financial and operational situation, and the general state of affairs through the September reporting period.

Here are the power rankings changes for the first month of football season, compared to last month:

  1. Nevada (–)
  2. New Jersey (–)
  3. Mississippi (–)
  4. Delaware (–)
  5. West Virginia (–)

Yep, no change. For September, the states rank identically to August.

It’s also worth noting that New Mexico now has a sportsbook within its borders. The Pueblo of Santa Ana began offering sports betting at their tribal casino in October, but a standing prohibition in state law keeps the Land of Enchantment off this list.

Let’s break down the numbers.

1. Nevada

The original gangster, Nevada sports betting has a secure spot atop these rankings for the foreseeable future. It has been offering single-game wagering since just after World War II, and expansion elsewhere is nudging the state’s industry forward.

Nevada releases its figures about a month behind the rest, so we’re using some inferences to measure its likely September performance. Last year, sportsbooks won about $45 million for the month on more than $550 million in tickets. Anything remotely close to those numbers for this September would keep Nevada at the head of the class.

Football typically accounts for about two-thirds of the total betting handle in the state for the first month of the season.

2. New Jersey

The Garden State finds itself in second place once again despite something of a disappointing month.

To be fair, it’s hard to throw any sort of shade. New Jersey sports betting generated about $24 million in revenue on $185 million in total wagers across all channels. Those numbers are quite, quite big for an industry in its fourth month of existence.

Nine brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are open for business so far, and another eight online/mobile apps are available statewide. And the state certainly isn’t complaining about the $2.6 million in sports betting taxes it collected for the month.

That being said, some in the industry are feeling a little let down. During an appearance at a gaming conference in Las Vegas, head regulator David Rebuck contended that folks would be “stunned” by the numbers. Most were projecting north of $300 million, so it’s a bit of a letdown in that context.

DraftKings Sportsbook is running away with the online/mobile market as anticipated, while FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands writes the majority of retail tickets in the state.

3. Mississippi

Within this mini-battle for second place, New Jersey is trending slightly downward on the heels of that quote-unquote “disappointing” September. Mississippi sports betting, on the other hand, is trending sharply upward.

Bettors wagered almost $32 million during the month, with books holding $5.5 million in revenue (including outstanding futures). In August, those numbers were $6.3 million and $645,000, respectively. Hello there, football season.

Data isn’t broken down by league or operator, but college football likely accounts for a higher-than-average percentage of the handle in Mississippi. It rests in the heart of SEC country with a regional monopoly on sports gambling. Across both the NFL and NCAA, football betting revenue came to about $4 million.

Numbers are especially impressive considering the landscape in the Magnolia State. Only 10 of its 28 casinos offered sports betting during September, and that betting was conducted exclusively on-property. Unlike the states ahead of it on this list, there is no off-site mobile betting in Mississippi.

Not yet, at least.

4. Delaware

Delaware sports betting holds onto the fourth spot this week, but only by a thread. The small state has a number of things working against it.

There’s size, of course. Delaware has a population under a million folks, and they only have access to three sportsbooks. There is no online/mobile betting in the state yet, and it may be some time given recent comments from regulators.

There’s also the structure of the industry itself. The DE Lottery operates sports betting across the state, using William Hill as its exclusive partner for all three casinos. As the administrator, the lotto takes one full half of the revenue. And as the lone provider, William Hill has little incentive to offer a competitive product.

Given those disclaimers, Delaware sports betting is actually pretty popular. Sportsbooks collected more than $3 million in September revenue on close to $17 million in wagers. They keep just 40 percent of that, though.

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5. West Virginia

West Virginia sports betting lingers in the bottom spot this month, though concerns over league and governmental meddling seem to have passed. It also gets a bump in our hearts because regulators provide updated sports betting numbers every single week.

Across the five September reporting periods, WV sportsbooks wrote about $7.3 million in tickets. That led to revenue of about $2.1 million, though that also includes outstanding futures.

The numbers aren’t earth-shattering in a vacuum, but the state’s industry is very much in its infancy. September betting comes from just two retail sportsbooks, and one of them is located inside a private resort.

FanDuel Sportsbook opened at The Greenbrier in the middle of the month, and on-site wagering was negligible for the remaining weeks. The public Hollywood Casino has what amounts to a monopoly in the state, responsible for almost $7 million of that $7.3 million handle.

WV may not have moved up a spot this month, but it is certainly trending upward. The three remaining sportbooks should open in the near future, and online/mobile betting is on the way, too.

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Eric Ramsey

Eric is a reporter and writer covering the US gambling industry, online poker, sports betting regulation, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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