West Virginia offers several forms of state-sanctioned gambling. Pari-mutuel horse race betting was introduced to the state in 1933. In 1984, the Mountain State established its lottery after following a statewide referendum, and in 1994 another referendum authorized Video Lottery Terminals at the local racetracks.
In 2001, VLTs were also introduced to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, as well as for fraternal organizations, and in 2007, West Virginia racetracks were allowed to begin offering table games.
West Virginia was also one of the first states that legalized sports betting once the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on this form of gambling in May 2018. The WV Sports Lottery Wagering Act was passed that same month. The first betting license was awarded to Penn National, the company that operates Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. The new sportsbook started taking bets on August 18, 2018, and by the end of the year, four out of five of the local casinos were offering legal sports betting.
Gambling in West Virginia is covered by West Virginia Code, Section 61-10. The current regulations prohibit West Virginia residents from taking part in many unlicensed games with real money involved, but the list doesn’t mention games that are played over the internet. As a result, it’s impossible to tell whether this list should be applied to online gambling scenarios. So far, no players have been prosecuted, so no court interpretation could help us shed some light on this issue.
Other gambling-related offenses are covered by West Virginia Code, Chapter 61, Article 10: Crimes Against Public Policy. The minimum gambling age in West Virginia is 18 for lottery games, bingo, and racing, and 21 for sports betting and casino-style games.
On March 27, 2019, West Virginia legislators passed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, which will introduce legal online casino and poker options to the state via the local land-based casinos. This bill will go into effect on June 7, and the regulatory framework for these new forms of gambling is expected to be ready by early 2020.
It’s worth remembering that the new bill does not legalize playing on offshore sites. West Virginia defines gambling as “betting or wagering money or another thing of value on any game of chance or knowingly giving money or something of value for another to bet on any game of chance.” This definition is broad enough to cover all unauthorized internet games. Placing any unlawful bets constitutes a misdemeanor and is punishable by a $5-$100 fine. The offender may also be required to give security for his good behavior for one year.
West Virginia has five large gambling facilities that offer Video Lottery Terminals and classic table games, such as craps, roulette, blackjack, and casino poker. These facilities are located in White Sulphur Springs (The Casino Club at The Greenbrier), Ranson (Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races), New Cumberland (Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort), Cross Lanes (Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino Resort), and Wheeling (Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack). As mentioned above, VLTs can also be operated by bars (up to five terminals) and fraternity organizations (up to ten terminals). All terminals are required to have an 80%-95% return-to-player games. West Virginia casinos aren’t required to enforce any bet size limits.
West Virginia recently passed an online gambling bill, and the first sites are expected to go online in 2020. Playing on offshore sites will remain illegal and will still be classified as a misdemeanor.
All West Virginia gambling establishments operate live poker rooms, but they do differ in size:
– Mardi Gras Casino West Virginia – 24 tables
– Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races – 16 tables
– Mountaineer Casino – 14 tables
– Wheeling Island Casino – 9 tables
– The Greenbrier – 2 tables
Cash game action is very Hold’ em-centric, with most tables running $1/$2 or $2/$5 No-Limit Hold ’em or $3/$6 Limit Hold ’em. The largest poker rooms host multiple Hold ’em tournaments every week, with the buy-ins ranging from $55 to $135.
West Virginia recently passed an online gambling bill, and the first internet poker rooms are expected to become available in the first half of 2020. Playing on offshore sites is prohibited and is considered a misdemeanor.
Sports betting was legalized in West Virginia in May 2018. Since then, all the local sportsbooks have launched land-based sportsbooks in cooperation with well-established betting companies.
As mentioned above, the first license went to Penn National, the owners of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. The online version of this sportsbook was launched in cooperation with William Hill and is known as Hollywood Sportsbook.
The second license went to FanDuel and The Greenbrier. This sportsbook is available online as FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier.
The two Delaware North Casinos, Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, also launched land-based sportsbooks by the end of the year. Still, they were forced to stop taking bets due to a dispute with their service provider. BetLucky, the online platform tied to these gambling establishments, is still online, but its customers won’t be able to deposit or place any bets until the legal problems are resolved.
The Mountaineer Casino Resort was the last West Virginia gambling establishment to launch a land-based sportsbook. Its customers can place bets online via the Mountaineer Sportsbook, which is operated in cooperation with William Hill.
Also, West Virginia residents are free to engage in on-track and off-track horse race betting. This form of gambling is also available online via popular US-facing platforms, such as TVG, XpressBet, and TwinSpires.
DFS contests are considered legal in West Virginia. In 2016, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declared that such games do not meet the state’s threshold of gambling because of the amount of skill required from the players. In 2017, West Virginia lawmakers also introduced a bill designed to clarify the legal status of DFS contests further. The bill designated HB 2751, ended up being passed to the House Judiciary Committee, but no further action was taken.
West Virginia lottery offers the following draw games: Powerball, Lotto America, Mega Millions, Daily 3, Daily 4, Cash 25, and Keno. It also provides scratch games and operates the VLTs which are available across the entire state. All lottery tickets have to be purchased from land-based retailers, as the lottery isn’t authorized to sell tickets online. The official lottery website is for information purposes only.
Charities and public organizations can host bingo games in West Virginia. Also, commercial bingo is available at the local gambling establishments. Legal internet bingo is currently unavailable, and it’s questionable whether any of the casinos will launch dedicated bingo sites once iGaming goes online in West Virginia. Playing on offshore bingo sites is illegal and constitutes a misdemeanor.
What types of gambling are available in WV?
West Virginia is a gambling-friendly state with plenty of options for the local real money gaming enthusiasts. The Mountain State has commercial casinos, and if that wasn’t enough, the local racetracks are allowed to offer casino-style games as well. West Virginia also allows pari-mutuel betting, charitable gambling, and bingo. The state also operates its own lottery and is planning to start selling lottery tickets online in 2015.
What laws cover online gambling in West Virginia?
Playing games of chance for money in land-based gambling establishments is covered rather extensively by Section 61 of the West Virginia code. However, none of the West Virginia regulations apply specifically to online play, which means that there are no laws that could prevent local gambling enthusiasts from using quality offshore gambling platforms, such as Bovada.
Is real money online gambling legal in West Virginia?
Most probably, yes. West Virginia Code doesn’t explicitly prohibit online gambling, and the authorities simply don’t bother with investigating individual players.
Which offshore gambling sites accept West Virginia residents?
West Virginia-based players are free to enjoy all the high-traffic offshore sites, including Bovada poker, casino, and sportsbook.
What are the most popular banking options supported by West Virginia -facing sites?
Unlike the European and Asian sites, most US-facing casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks don’t give you all that many banking options to choose from. In most cases, Visa and MasterCard work best when it comes to making a deposit, while wire transfers are the cheapest way of cashing out.
Does West Virginia offer any intrastate online gambling?
No. There is no legal framework that’d allow the local businesses to launch West Virginia-facing sites. Any site that claims to be licensed and regulated in West Virginia should be treated with caution, as there’s no reason to play on sketchy sites with so many quality services like Bovada around.
Is it likely for West Virginia to regulate online gambling?
West Virginia is currently in the process of introducing new regulations that’d allow online lottery sales. However, it’s impossible to predict whether this will lead to any new iGaming legislation or not.
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