After months of waiting, it appears that West Virginia is on the verge of getting back into mobile sports betting.
And it appears that they may have more than one option, too.
We are in the final phases of testing for two service providers’ sports wagering apps and anticipate the announcement of a launch date from those providers in the coming days,” John Myers, the director of the West Virginia Lottery, told Casino.org in a statement.
A representative for FanDuel confirmed to Casino.org that the sportsbook plans to offer its mobile application in West Virginia, although they did not have an exact time frame for when it would roll out. The company currently runs the retail sportsbook at The Greenbrier, a resort owned by Gov. Jim Justice in the southern part of the state that operates a private casino.
Speculation surrounds the second application, but West Virginia Metro News indicated the second app may belong to DraftKings.
Attempts to reach DraftKings were unsuccessful.
Sports Betting Struggles
This wouldn’t be the first time DraftKings has tried to launch a mobile app in West Virginia. Three months ago, it tested its application, and lottery officials indicated they would allow a launch. However, questions popped up regarding the location of an out-of-state wallet server, which held customers’ financial information, and led to the launch being scuttled over Wire Act concerns.
West Virginia ushered in sports betting a year ago this week, but it has not gone easy. Myers cited issues such as DraftKings mobile troubles when he told a reporter with The State Journal the first year of sports betting was a “pain in the butt.”
State Del. Shawn Fluharty (D-Wheeling) has been an outspoken critic of the state’s management of sports betting, as he’s seen the casino in his town lose their local sportsbook because of an issue over technology rights.
Online betting also would give residents in all parts of the state a much easier chance to participate. Currently, only three of the state’s five casinos offer retail sportsbooks at this time. None are centrally located. In addition to the Greenbrier, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Racetrack and Resort also have books.
However, Hollywood Casino is located in the far eastern portion of the state, and draws most of its customers from the nearby Washington, DC metropolitan area. Mountaineer is located at the far northern tip of the panhandle.
Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National, has deals in place with both DraftKings and PointsBet to offer mobile betting in the state. The company also will have its own app, which will run through a partnership with Kambi, a sports betting service provider. The apps would soften the blow Hollywood’s retail book is likely to take when DC sports betting goes live, which is expected to happen later this year.
William Hill runs the sportsbook at Mountaineer, and Joe Asher, William Hill’s US CEO, previously told Casino.org that the company is interested in offering a mobile app in the state. However, he did not give a time frame, other than to say it was a matter of priorities. After launching Iowa retail and mobile earlier this month, the company is working on its license application for Indiana, which is planning to allow sports betting early next month.
The state’s two other casinos, Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, are located much closer to the state’s population centers. However, their retail sportsbooks – and the mobile app that accompanied the retail launch last December – have been shuttered since March, and it’s led casino owner Delaware North to file a lawsuit against its now-former sport betting partner, Miomni.
Upcoming Football Games
Next weekend marks the first full weekend of college football. Both it and the National Football League, which opens its regular season the following week, represent the largest market for sports bettors in the United States. Football accounted for about 45 percent of the handles in Mississippi and Nevada last year, according to information released from both states’ gaming commissions.
Both of West Virginia’s bowl subdivision college football teams play next Saturday. However, both West Virginia University and Marshall University will play lower division teams in games that may not be appealing to sportsbooks.
Neither DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, nor William Hill has Marshall’s game against the Virginia Military Institute listed on their boards. VMI plays in the football championship subdivision (FCS), one tier lower than the Thundering Hurd, and the Keydets last posted a winning record in 1981.
The Mountaineers host James Madison, a team currently ranked No. 2 in the FCS coaches’ poll. However, only DraftKings is offering action on the West Virginia game as of Friday, with the Mountaineers a seven-point favorites over JMU. On the straight-up moneyline, WVU is a -295 favorite, meaning a $295 bet would net $100. The Dukes are +235 on the moneyline.