On May 14, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal sports betting ban by eliminating the Professional Amateur SportsProtection Act (PASPA), effectively allowing states that had already approved sports gambling to officially legalize the industry.
West Virginia became the sixth state, and first in 2018, to legalize sports gambling when it passed its sports betting law in March 2018. Because lawmakers prepared for a favorable SCOTUS ruling in drafting that legislature, West Virginia will be amongst the very first states to offer a regulated gambling program.
West Virginia sports betting status
The five casinos in West Virginia will be able to offer live sports betting as well as an online platform available for patrons anywhere in the state. The industry is expected to be up and running sometime in the summer of 2018.
Prior to the SCOTUS decision on May 14, Gov. Jim Justice called a special session to address the language in the sports betting law. Both the NBA and MLB were reportedly unhappy with how the law failed to include the “integrity fees” those leagues were asking for as compensation for betting on their product.
The other states that have legalized sports gambling (Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and New Jersey) refuse to give those leagues any such integrity fees, and while West Virginia has agreed to pay a percentage to the leagues, Justice announced that those funds will come from the individual casinos and not the state budget.
There are also internal tax matters to settle, and West Virginia may follow the lead of New Jersey, which just created its own bill to specify tax rates for the industry. New Jersey set a tax rate of 8.5 percent for land-based revenue, 13 percent for online wagering by casinos and 14.25 percent for online wagering by race tracks.
Professional sports leagues can continue to lobby states such as West Virginia for a bigger slice of the pie, but with no professional teams within state borders, there is little incentive for West Virginia to add any more legislation that includes such integrity fees.
Sports Betting FAQ
When will sports betting be legal in West Virginia?
West Virginia passed a law legalizing sports gambling that immediately went into effect on May 14 when the SCOTUS overturned PASPA. State officials and the individual casinos simply need to define a plan for regulation and taxation before the industry opens to the public sometime before the 2018 football season.
Where can I place sports bets in West Virginia?
Sports gambling will be available in the state’s five casinos as well as via an online platform created and regulated by those casinos. The following facilities will be permitted to accept wagers on site:
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort Cross Lanes
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
How old do I have to be to bet in West Virginia?
Patrons must be at least 21 years old to gamble in West Virginia.
Which West Virginia teams can I bet on?
There are no professional sports teams in the state, but West Virginia will allow residents to place bets on its collegiate athletics, such as Division 1 programs West Virginia University and Marshall.
Can I bet on my mobile device?
Yes, West Virginia’s sports betting law allows for mobile betting via smartphone platforms and does not require that patrons bet from inside it’s five casinos.
Who will oversee West Virginia sports betting?
The West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) will regulate and oversee the sports betting industry.
Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks before it’s legal in West Virginia?
Yes, in order for a sportsbook to be legal it must be sanctioned by the state. Placing bets with an unregulated bookkeeper can result in fines and potential jail time, although there has yet to be an instance of this.