West Virginia Lottery Director Says State Not to Blame for Mobile Sports Betting Issues
Posted on: August 19, 2019, 08:47h.
Last updated on: August 20, 2019, 02:25h.
John Myers, the director of the West Virginia Lottery, told Casino.org Monday that his organization is not causing any delay in implementing mobile sports betting in the state.
His comments come after state Del. Shawn Fluharty (D-Wheeling) told Casino.org last week that it might be time for the state legislature to examine the issue and determine if the problem lies with the state lottery, which manages sports betting, or the operators.
Myers called Fluharty “misinformed” about the issue. The state law doesn’t give the lottery the power to run a system. Instead, it must manage providers. The sportsbooks, Myers said, are working on applications.
West Virginia did have an online platform for a couple of months when Delaware North unveiled its Bet Lucky app at the same time it launched retail sportsbooks at Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort in December. However, a dispute between Delaware North’s platform partner and a vendor led to the retail and online books closing just before the NCAA Tournament began in March.
Delaware North has yet to re-open the retail books or re-start the app, as it has filed a lawsuit against its partner.
Concerns Over Wire Act
West Virginia was the fifth state to roll out retail sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act. The first bet at a retail sportsbook was taken on Aug. 30, 2018, at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. It became the third state with mobile when BetLucky was released in December
After BetLucky went down, it seemed like DraftKings, through its partnership with Hollywood Casino, would fill the online void. However, after successfully testing the app in May, state officials had questions about the location of a wallet server that has kept DraftKings from pushing out the application.
(T)he Lottery denied approval of those based on the requirements of the federal Wire Act,” Myers told Casino.org. “Direction was sought from the West Virginia Attorney General, who also made the same recommendation for set-up of the system as the Lottery. While the decision to enforce these requirements has not been popular with everyone, the ultimate goal is to make sure that Lottery employees, the MSPs (management service providers), and the citizens who place a wager are protected.”
Randy Crader, a spokesman for DraftKings, told Casino.org there was nothing new to report at this time.
Myers added that one service provider offered a plan that lottery officials approved. However, the provider discovered the plan would cause issues outside of the state, prompting them to pull back.
A question to lottery officials to identify that provider was not answered Monday evening.
Another possibility could be Gambling.com, which announced last week it received approval from the state to establish agreements with online sports betting, casino, and poker operators. However, Myers said he did not think the company had a contract in place with a West Virginia operator yet. A message to Gambling.com for more information was not returned.
William Hill Talks at Early Stage
Last week, William Hill US CEO Joe Asher told Casino.org that his company is interested in establishing an online application in the state. However, he did not give a time frame for a roll-out, mentioning the oddsmaker had just started in Iowa and was finishing up its application for a license in Indiana.
William Hill unveiled its online application in Iowa last Friday, one day after opening its retail books in the state. It opened a retail sportsbook at Mountaineer Park last November.
Myers indicated William Hill’s online entry in the state is not close.
“I have not spoken with anyone from William Hill regarding online wagering, but my staff has held some preliminary discussions about how they would proceed,” he said.
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