West Virginia is issuing its first sports betting licenses. On Friday, The FanDuel Group received a license to operate a sports book in the Mountain State, in partnership with historic, luxury hotel resort, The Greenbrier, Sportshandle.com reports.
But the Greenbrier won’t be the first into the market. The West Virginia Lottery Commission’s general counsel, Danielle Boyd, told MetroNews’ “Sportsline” program last week that Penn National Gaming’s (PNG) Hollywood Casino Charles Town will beat The Greenbrier to the punch.
While Paddy Power Betfair-controlled FanDuel has the green light from the gaming regulator, the Greenbrier had yet to apply for an operator’s license, as of one week ago, Boyd said. The Hollywood Casino received its license last week and is expected to launch by September 1, in time for the beginning of the NFL season on September 6.
We had hoped everyone would launch at the same time and everyone would be up at the beginning of football season,” Boyd told Sportsline. “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.”
PNG to Launch with William Hill?
PNG has two properties in Nevada, Tropicana and M Resort, whose sports books are operated by CG Technologies. But in West Virginia, it’s believed PNG will partner with William Hill, although neither party has made an official announcement. The two companies are said to be in talks regarding a major sports betting deal across all PNG properties.
PNG is the biggest regional casino operator in the US, in terms of number of casinos, with 29 properties in 16 states, which will increase to 18 states once its deal to acquire Pinnacle Entertainment is finalized.
At an earnings call last week, William Hill CEO alluded to negotiations with a potential partner that would increase its footfall in a “further 14 states,” including West Virginia. It could really only be PNG.
West Virginia will be the third state to launch sports betting since the US Supreme Court’s rejection of the federal ban. It will only be the second, after New Jersey, to launch full-scale online and mobile wagering services.
As in New Jersey, bettors in West Virginia will be able to place bets through mobile phone apps, provided they are located within the state’s borders. Boyd said last week that this is proving to be the biggest challenge to the new licensing regime.
“The technology for mobile and online is new to us in West Virginia,” she said. “We’re starting from square one, whereas New Jersey already had online casinos in place, online poker and other casino-style games.”