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West Virginia Approves DraftKings for Mobile Sports Betting; Lottery Director Expects Launch Next Week

West Virginia could be back in the mobile sports betting business as soon as next week as the state’s Lottery Commission gave approval for the DraftKings app to launch statewide.

West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers, right, said he expects DraftKings to launch its mobile sports betting application by next week. The Lottery Commission gave its approval for the app at its monthly meeting Wednesday. (Image: Steven Allen Adams/Parkersburg News and Sentinel)

Randy Burnside, the lottery’s public relations manager, confirmed to Casino.org that the commission made the decision at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

In an interview Thursday with West Virginia Metro News Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval, Lottery Director John Myers said his office completed testing at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town and is finishing a letter of approval for the casino and DraftKings to proceed.

Myers said the casino will likely perform additional training this weekend. That would likely make DraftKings’ go-live date in the middle of next week.

A Hollywood Casino representative referred all questions to DraftKings. A DraftKings spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

When DraftKings becomes available it will end a nearly three-month hiatus for mobile sports betting in West Virginia. Delaware North’s Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos offered an app, called BetLucky, for 11 weeks before a technical dispute shuttered both the retail and online sportsbooks at the casinos in early March.

Last month, Delaware North filed suit against its partner, Miomni, over the closure.

Financial Impact Uncertain

Myers could not give Kercheval an estimate for how much revenue sports betting would bring to the state, although he cautioned it would not bring in the amount of money video lottery terminals have. In fiscal year 2018, the terminals at state’s four racetrack casinos brought in $504.3 million in revenue.

Through May 11, sports betting has generated $1.1 million for the state, although that figure considers both Delaware North properties unexpectedly going offline.

We’re still kind of working towards putting our arms around (estimating sport betting’s financial impact) simply because we’ve been in-and-out of it,” Myers said. “The mobile app was very successful when it was running at the Delaware North properties. In fact, in some weeks, it outperformed the retail at those locations.”

A review of financial data from those casinos shows that mobile taxable receipts from Wheeling Island exceeded its retail receipts in seven of the 11 weeks before the closure. Mardi Gras’ online receipts surpassed retail five times in the same span.

While DraftKings will be available throughout the entire state, it may be difficult for the app to exceed Hollywood’s retail sportsbook. Located in the far eastern part of the state, Hollywood markets to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which is about an hour’s drive to Charles Town.

Of the $114.2 million in sports wagers made in the state, $79.7 million of that has been handled by Hollywood.

DraftKings Growth

DraftKings signed a licensing agreement with Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino, last December to provide a mobile sportsbook platform.

It started as a daily fantasy sports gaming company in 2012 and expanded into sports betting by launching its first sportsbook service last August in New Jersey. The company runs one of three apps affiliated with Resorts Digital Gaming, which has generated $22.7 million in revenue through the first four months of 2019. Resorts Digital Gaming’s online sports betting apps produced $30.4 million in revenue over the last five months of 2018.

DraftKings also operates a retail sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in Mississippi.

In West Virginia, it will provide betting on professional and college sporting events. Wagering options will include betting on games, futures betting, and in-game proposition bets.

Besides Hollywood, sports betting is currently available in West Virginia at two other locations. They are Mountaineer Casino in New Cumberland, where William Hill manages the sportsbook, and The Greenbrier, a resort in Sulphur Springs where FanDuel offers sports betting.

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