West Virginia Gaming Legislation History
A statewide referendum established the West Virginia Lottery in 1984. Some of the state’s most popular lottery games include Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lotto America. Profits are still used to support education, jobs, community initiatives and infrastructural improvements regarding the local economy.
The gambling industry in West Virginia started in 1931 when the state established the West Virginia Racing Commission. Despite the Mountaineer State being known for its mountains and coal mine industry, West Virginia has a historic gambling history.
The earliest reports of gambling in the state came as early as 1933. Pari-mutuel horse race betting took place at the Charles Town Turf Club during that year. Shortly after introducing pari-mutuel betting, Wheeling Downs opened its doors to the public.
Nearly two decades later, Waterford Park opened, eventually renamed Mountaineer Park. It remains the only racebook in the West Virginia. The horse racing industry became a bigger draw in the state as the state introduced casino-style gaming similar to that of Vegas.
A separate referendum authorized Video Lottery Terminals at the local race tracks, which took horse racing to new heights in the state. West Virginia allowed authorized Video Lottery Terminals to be placed in Mountaineer Park in 1987. Video poker was introduced in 1990 to expand the gaming market.
For so many years, casinos, video poker, and horseracing have been the people’s go-to throughout the state. Less than three months after the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, West Virginia’s sports betting market launched at retail locations first at t Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and followed New Jersey, Mississippi, Nevada, and Delaware to legalize mobile sports betting.
Changes in Racetrack Gambling
In 1994, the Racetrack Video Lottery Act passed, which permitted video lottery machines at racetracks in four track. In the beginning stages of the operation, the state didn’t regulate these types of machines.
It took the state until 2001 to legalize video poker under the Limited Video Lottery Act. New legislation required newly designed gaming machines to replace older ones to meet requirements necessary for use.
According to the West Virginia Lottery Commission, more than 7,600 video machines were operating at 1,614 state-certified gambling across the state. The initial tax rate started at 48 percent but increased to 52 percent in 2007.
West Virginia has five large casinos that include The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino Resort, and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
West Virginia may have a historic gambling history, but some facts worried people like the opportunity to introduce sports betting arrived. The Mountaineer State has the fifth-worst economy in the United States, and many who reside in the state live below the poverty line. However, according to recent data, there is a gradual improvement in the state’s employment rate and economy.
PASPA and Post-PASPA Effects on West Virginia
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act enacted on January 1, 1993, made sports betting illegal in the United States excluding Nevada. To wager on sporting events, those in West Virginia had to bet illegally through offshore sportsbooks or local bookies.
Two separate attempts were made in West Virginia to legalize sports betting before a breakthrough due to Delegate Shawn Fluharty and Senate Bill 415. The sister bill also passed through the Senate, which helped the case.
In doing so, West Virginia became the fifth to offer legalized sports betting in the industry. The first year of the launch wasn’t completely smooth as one might expect. Two sportsbook operators and one mobile provider suspended operations due to legal disputes. Consequently, the state missed out on a large portion of March Madness revenue that would have turned into taxes.
Mobile Sports Betting in West Virginia
West Virginia has a bright future despite their smaller population compared to other southeastern states. Despite West Virginia having a plethora of minor league baseball teams, there are no other professional sporting organizations in the state.
West Virginia Mountaineers from West Virginia University represent the Mountain State in the NCAA and have had 179 players selected into the NFL since 1936. The number will keep increasing. Their college basketball program is also popular as many made it to the NBA.
West Virginia also doesn’t have a hockey team that competes in the NHL. However, they a few teams that compete in the lower divisions.
West Virginia has seven sportsbook operators, with more on the way as the industry continues to grow. The five casinos and licensed racetracks may host up to three skins.
Sportsbooks that want to operate in West Virginia must partner with a brick-and-mortar gaming facility to have a mobile platform. While you can bet on in-state collegiate teams, prop bets for individual performances are not legal.
You can bet on eSports in West Virginia with one exception. All the participants involved in the event must be at least 18 years of age. Sportsbooks are also subject to a tax rate of 10 percent based on gross revenue.
The state didn’t do as well as it hoped factoring in that a couple of sportsbooks shut down in their initial launch year. The state expected a tax revenue of $5.5 million during the first year but only secured a total of $949,000. However, as more sportsbooks look to enter the state, the future for this market is bright.