West Virginia has a Successful Opening Weekend for Sports Betting
West Virginia opened for sports betting a little earlier than planned, on August 30th, with a grand opening at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. Just in time for college football season, the first wager was accepted during a “soft opening” of the sports book. The first bet was placed by Delegate Jason Barrett (D-Berkeley) in the amount of $50, on WVU to win the football national championship. If he’s right, he could win around $3,000.
That $50 bet, though, is nothing compared to what happened this past Saturday. West Virginia University’s Mountaineers opened against the Tennessee Volunteers. A lot of people attended the grand opening, and all together they wagered around $340,000.
Most of that handle came on the West Virginia game and futures that were bet on the Mountaineers, who came out the winners 40-14. However, the first day’s betting momentum didn’t slow down. In fact, sports bettors continued to place wagers throughout Labor Day weekend with the casino and the state making respectable earnings.
The First Four Days
During the first four days of legal sports betting in WV, at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, approximately $640,000 was wagered on total bets. Considering the casino only offered a soft opening Thursday and Friday, a grand opening on Saturday, and regular business hours on Sunday, that’s not bad at all.
Out of the $640,000 wagered, half went back in payouts; the state’s take is 10 percent of what’s left over after payouts. Hollywood Casino Racing Operations VP Eric Zimny made the following comments about the financial results of opening weekend, according to WVMetroNews:
“The taxable revenue produced off of this was about $32,000, a tax rate of 10 percent. There was $320,000 in cash, more tax taken in than paid out.”
Ongoing numbers will fluctuate, he said, because payouts aren’t immediate all the time.
“There’s definitely going to be some swings. There’s a lot more volatility in this than there is in something like slots, table games, or even racing.”
Zinny said most of the bets went on the WVU-Tennessee game but more money overall was bet on the Michigan-Notre Dame game.
The casino is looking forward to even more business this week with NFL betting back again with their season starting up.
Legal Sports Betting in West Virginia
West Virginia was the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize sports betting when it enacted a sports betting law in March 2018 that took effect when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. The legislators hoped for a favorable ruling, and they got it, which made their legislation ready for casinos to apply for licensure. WV was the fourth state to launch sports gambling since the court’s decision in May.
Soon after the SCOTUS decision, the West Virginia Lottery Commission got right to work writing the rules for suppliers and casinos, with the goal to have sports betting operating in time for the 2018-2019 NFL season.
Right now, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, with operations by William Hill, is the only casino in WV that offers sports betting. The Greenbrier has a sports betting deal with FanDuel, but has not yet started operations.
West Virginia law allows for sports betting at the five existing gambling facilities, and on mobile devices. We can expect mobile sports betting platforms to come online within the next few months.
The five casinos and racinos that can accept wagers on sporting events are:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races;
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort;
- Wheeling Island Hotel;
- Mardis Gras Casino and Resort Cross Lanes; and
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier is authorized to offer different forms of gambling.
All of these facilities have applied for and won licenses to offer sports betting except for Mountaineer, but regulators say they are expecting to receive the application paperwork from the owner, Eldorado Resorts, very soon.
What’s Next for West Virginia
As mentioned, FanDuel has made a deal with the Greenbrier. It will provide retail sports betting there, and its app is in the final round of development, so it should be out around the middle of this month.
DraftKings Sportsbooks also has a license while it shops around for a partner casino. Each of the five West Virginia properties can partner with as many as three online brands, so there will soon be a lot of opportunity in the state for sports gamblers.
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