As of 11 a.m. EST, Aug. 30, sports betting in West Virginia is officially live. Hollywood Casino Charles Town is now taking wagers at its sportsbook facility.
Managing General Counsel, WV Lottery Commission Danielle Boyd posted a picture of the first wager in the state. The bet, not shockingly, came on the state’s best college football team:
— Danielle Boyd (@danyeller714) August 30, 2018
It is not surprising that Hollywood Casino is the first to offer sports betting in West Virginia. Hollywood is the largest casino in West Virginia and the closest to more than one major city (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.). Hollywood also has a partnership with European gaming giant William Hill.
Officially, this launch is a soft launch. Hollywood won’t formally announce that they’re open for business until Sept. 1. Former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann will be on-hand to celebrate the official launch.
However, there is no real difference in operations between then and now. Anyone can place whatever wager they like at this very moment.
Sports betting outlook for the rest of West Virginia
The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort
That leaves four casinos in the state that have yet to offer sports betting. In all likelihood, The Casino Club at Greenbrier will be the next to follow.
The Greenbrier is the only private casino in America. As a result, information about progress on the casino’s sportsbook is scarce.
Greenbrier and sportsbook operator FanDuel formed a partnership to offer sports betting in June 2018. FanDuel secured its sports betting license in West Virginia on Aug. 10, so the only thing holding back sports betting at the Greenbrier is the actual logistics of offering the service to patrons.
Elsewhere in the state, Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in Wheeling have secured licenses to offer sports betting. There are some reports of ongoing construction at Mardi Gras, but so far, neither casino has made any kind of announcement regarding an imminent launch.
The last casino in the state, the Mountaineer, remains rather quiet about sports betting. However, the lack of public statements does not mean much. The Mountaineer could swing open the doors on a sportsbook at any time.
West Virginia moving ahead as others hesitate
With this announcement, West Virginia becomes the fourth state post-PASPA and the fifth overall to offer sports betting to its residents. Other prime candidates like Pennsylvania and Rhode Island continue to work towards their own sports betting finish lines.
Pennsylvania added legal sports betting to the books in 2017. However, disagreements about the licensing fees and tax rates have given many of the state’s 12 casinos pause about applying.
To date, only two casino operators have applied for a sports betting license – Greenwood Gaming (Parx Casino) and Penn National (Hollywood Casino). It’s possible that sports betting will launch in Pennsylvania within a matter of weeks, but the journey in the Keystone State has been marked by its numerous delays.
Speaking of delays, Rhode Island residents will now have to wait until at least November to bet sports in the Ocean State. However, providers IGT and William Hill just managed to finalize a deal. As a result, the particulars of the deal will push the launch off by at least a month.
With the launch in West Virginia, the only constant in a post-PASPA world has been the uncertainty. The combination of West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and Mississippi seem an odd band of states to lead the charge for sports betting in the United States. However, as is often the case, history is written by those who show up.
Correction: The original version of this story said that Boyd placed the first wager in West Virginia. That was not the case; lottery staff are not allowed to place wagers. She was merely relaying that the first bet was placed. PlayUSA regrets the error.