West Virginia Online Gambling
How to Gamble Live and Online in the West Virginia
Gambling is legal in West Virginia – this includes WV sports betting. Our comprehensive guide to gambling in West Virginia includes a look at the timeline for legal WV gambling, right up to the present day. You will find information on what to expect from the online casinos once they launch as well as other forms of legal gambling available within WV.
There are plenty of ways to gamble in the Mountain state. Sports betting, both live and online is legal as are casino games, poker, bingo and a variety of other gambling options.
Best West Virginia Online Gambling Sites in 2019
Gambling Laws in West Virginia: Timeline
West Virginia has a long and rich history when it comes gambling. The racetrack history goes back to 1931 but it would not be until 1980 that the gambling laws in WV really saw a significant update. The 1980’s saw the introduction of legal bingo games as well as the state lottery.
Casinos were opened at the racetracks in 1994, though it would take longer for table games to be allowed in addition to the video lottery terminals / slots. These were added in 2008, following referendums of the local populations around the casinos. As well as the 4 racetrack casinos, WV has a private ‘club’ casino – the Greenbrier.
WV Online Gambling Laws
West Virginia online gambling laws were debated, introduced to the house and passed in quick succession in 2018.
Act H 2934 became law in March 2018. This permitted the licensing of legal online casinos, poker rooms and sports betting sites – as well as live sports betting. Licenses are available to the 5 existing brick and mortar casinos.
The SCOTUS decision on PASPA in May 2018 triggered a clause in H 2934 – making sports betting legal in West Virginia. Retail sportsbooks would open quickly, with online sportsbooks now also available from both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Each B&M casino is permitted to license 3 online sports betting brands, giving plenty of room for the major technology players in this area to get involved.
Online casino gambling is taking a little longer. It is now expected that the WV lottery commission will have the licensing framework ready for applications by mid-2020. The live casinos will be given a single license each. Online poker will be introduced over a similar timeline.
Act H2934 taxes online gambling revenues at 15%. There is a $250,000 fee for an interactive license, plus renewal fees every 5 years.
Live Casinos in West Virginia
There are currently 5 casinos, 4 of which are racetracks (2 horse racing, 2 for greyhounds).
When the licensing process for online casinos is ready, these venues will be invited to apply. It is not known whether they will use their own brand names, or the brands of the technology partners for their online casinos:
- The Mountaineer: This thoroughbred racetrack is home to a big casino. There are more than 1,500 slot machines, many table games and a poker room at this venue. It is also home to a William Hill branded live sportsbook. The Mountaineer is known for being one of the busiest racetracks in the country. In addition to their gambling options, there is a hotel, event center and multiple restaurants.
- Hollywood Casino at Charlestown Races: Operated by Penn National Racing, the Hollywood Casino site also hosts thoroughbred horse racing. Key races include the Sprint Festival and Charles Town Classic. With a 5 day a week schedule, this is a busy track. They have a live sportsbook, more than 3,000 slots and multiple casino table games on offer.
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort: This casino is also a racetrack, only with greyhound racing instead of horses. It is located in the city of Nitro, WV. You can bet on horses via their OTB office, and enjoy casino games, slots and a large poker room. There is no sportsbook at the Mardi Gras, though you can enjoy dining, events and a 150-room hotel there.
- Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack: This casino is located in the middle of the Ohio River, on Wheeling Island. It is a greyhound racing facility with a casino and entertainment complex. There are more than 1,100 slots, plus casino table games and a smaller (9-table) poker room at this location.
- The Greenbrier: This is the only casino in West Virginia not to also offer either horse or greyhound racing. It is a private club, located close to White Sulphur Springs, WV. With strict dress codes, and membership required, this is marketed as a luxury private resort. There is a sportsbook at this site (branded with FanDuel), plus a ‘casino club’. This resort is famous for its golfing facilities.
Online Casinos in West Virginia
We won’t know exactly which WV online casinos will be live until at least 2020. In the meantime, a look at states which already have regulated online casinos running shows what to expect.
Initially, there will be 5 legal online casinos licensed in WV. One for each of the live casino venues. This could mean a lot of competition between the online casino brands to partner with the live venues.
Here are some of the brands which could eventually come to the Mountain state:
- 888 Casino
- GVC (Party Poker / Casino brands)
- Rush Street Interactive (SugarHouse brands)
- Stars Group
Online Casino Websites and Apps
Casinos in other regulated states are accessed via either a responsive website or downloadable apps. There is no longer any need to download a software client for desktop or laptop computers – as all the games are browser based.
Apps for online casinos have pros and cons. While the game play and geo-location is smoother, they often don’t feature as many games as the browser-based versions. Cashier functionality is included. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you might need to wait a little longer for an app. Apple recently changed the rules for the technology platform for these and the casino companies are still catching up.
An advantage of choosing the browser-based software is that you can instantly move between casinos. This allows you to take advantage of all the future WV online gambling & casino bonuses without needing to download multiple apps.
What Casino Games are Legal in West Virginia?
Table games were made legal in live casinos in WV in 2008. With poker, bingo and slots also allowed, the full range of casino games will be available when these sites go live.
Here is what you can expect to see:
- Live Dealer Table Games: You can play online against real dealers at many casinos these days. Studios will need to be established, with live feeds. Blackjack, roulette, baccarat and casino poker variations are already running in this format in other regulated states. You will bet online by dragging and dropping chips and clicking buttons to indicate your game-play decisions where needed.
- Software Based Table Games: Only the most popular games have live dealers. With the software-based versions, you get many varieties of the most popular games. Blackjack and casino poker can have different side bets, rules and novel game play.
- Casino Slots: This is the biggest category of the online casino games becoming available in West Virginia. They will range from games which mimic mechanical 3-reel slots to online versions of multi-media games from the casino floor. Jackpots (including multi-million progressives) are also available online.
- Video Poker: Your favorite titles from casino bar tops can be found online. These include multi-hand games and ‘bonus poker’ variations with multipliers as well as standards like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.
- Bingo / Keno and Novelty Games: There are plenty of casino games online which don’t sit neatly in any category. Bingo and keno often have crazy and colorful themes. Dice games like Sic-Bo can be enjoyed. You can also try your hand at virtual racing games, or novelty titles like scratch cards.
West Virginia Online Casino Bonuses 101
As the online casinos in WV go live, there will be competition to attract players. This will give you an excellent opportunity to take advantage of their marketing budgets – in the form of casino bonus offers.
Based on the pattern in other states where online gambling is legal, the WV casino bonuses will include a mix of completely free offers, matched welcome bonuses and player promotions / loyalty schemes. While there is nothing stopping you from taking advantage of all 5 WV online casino bonuses, the following information gives you an idea of what to look for to get the best deals:
No Deposit Bonuses: Expect to see small bonus offers simply for registering an account. These are usually in the $20 to $25 range. You’ll need to use this for play before it can be withdrawn. Look for the number of times each bonus needs to be wagered. The best only need to be played through once, the worst up to 20 times.
Matched Welcome Bonuses: This will be the most common form of WV casino bonus when they go live. Your first deposit will be matched, up to a cap of between $100 and $1000. Again, each bonus will have a play-through requirement. These will vary from casino to casino.
Loyalty Schemed: Some online casinos tie-in their player loyalty scheme with their live casino comps. Some loyalty schemes have tiers, while others are flat rate. Not all online casinos have these. Expect to be able to swap points you collect from real money play for extra bonuses.
Player Promotions: This is a broad category, covering all online casino offers aimed at existing players rather than new players signing up. They can include free slot spins, leader board contests, reload bonuses, happy hours for extra loyalty points, slot or blackjack tournaments and a lot of seasonal / one off ideas. Key to finding a good online casino is to make sure that there are frequent promo offers.
Sweepstakes Casinos: Enjoy Online Slots in WV Now
While we wait for the regulated West Virginia online gambling sites to open, there is a legal way to enjoy online slots and a limited selection of table games in West Virginia.
Here is how they work:
- Instead of gambling in dollars, you use a virtual currency called ‘Sweeps Cash’
- If you win, then you can swap this Sweeps Cash for dollars and cash it out
- The casinos can’t sell you Sweeps Cash, so this is given to you free when you purchase gold coins (which are used for entertainment only).
- You can get free Sweeps Cash via contests, sign-up bonuses or by sending a letter to a registered address.
While this sounds complex, the sites have been legally running in multiple states since 2016. They accept credit card payments legally and are becoming increasingly popular.
The downside is that the number of games is limited compared to the regulated casinos in other states. You can enjoy some colorful slots, many with jackpots. If you are familiar with live casino slots, you will find that a lot of these are heavily ‘influenced’ by big name titles.
Sports Betting in West Virginia
Sports betting became legal after a Supreme Court decision overturned PASPA in May of 2018. This triggered a clause in the WV Lotteries Expansion Act, and live sports betting quickly followed.
There are currently three live sportsbooks at the Hollywood Casino, Mountaineer and Greenbrier resort – plus online betting sites.
There was a ‘false start’ for online sports betting.
The BetLucky app, which was licensed by the owners of the Mardi Gras and Wheelers Island racetrack casinos, came online shortly after licensing was completed. Live sportsbooks run by the companies behind this app (Miomni and EnterG Software Solutions). Unfortunately, the platform did not last – going dark soon after launch. Disputes between Delaware North (owners of the racetracks) and these technology providers have also temporarily shut down the retail sportsbooks
FanDuel and DraftKings online sportsbooks launched live sportsbook apps in September 2019. William Hill will launch their own app soon.
Sports betting, both live and online is covered in depth on this separate page covering sports betting in West Virginia.
Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in West Virginia
Playing Daily Fantasy Sports contests (DFS) for real money is legal in West Virginia. This was clarified by the attorney general, after the legality of the sites was questioned.
Popular sites include FanDuel and DraftKings. While both of these brands are opening full sports betting sites in WV – the DFS contests will remain in place. These games involve picking a roster of players for a day’s sporting action. Your line-ups can then compete with the picks of players from all over the country. There are different ways to win money with your line-ups. These include tournaments, head-to-head contests, games where 50% or the field get paid and more.
Gambling on Horse Races in West Virginia
West Virginia has a long history of horse racing. Both main racetracks have a packed schedule of thoroughbred racing, with many Stakes races and festivals.
You have 3 ways to place bets:
- At the racetracks
- The OTB office at the Greenbrier
Betting at the racetracks is not restricted to the events taking place there. Simulcast wagering means that you’ll be able to bet on races from tracks all over the country. All horse racing bets use pari-mutuel pools. Instead of setting prices, the books pool the money bet, dividing this among the winning tickets. You can bet on individual selections, up to 4 finishers in the correct order, or even multi-race bets like the pick 5 contests. If these are not won, they are rolled over to the next meeting, often reaching jackpot sized proportions.
The locations of the 2 thoroughbred and 2 greyhound racetracks with simulcast betting are as follows:
- Thoroughbred: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races: 750 Hollywood Dr, Charles Town, West Virginia, 25414.
- Thoroughbred: The Mountaineer Racetrack: 1420 Mountaineer Cir, New Cumberland, WV 26047
- Greyhounds: Mardi Gras: 1 Greyhound Dr, Cross Lanes, WV 2531
- Greyhounds: Wheeling Island: 1 S Stone St, Wheeling, WV 26003, USA
The only betting office which is not attached to a racetrack is the Greenbrier resort in Sulphur Springs. Called the ‘Twelve Oaks’, this is open from 11and to 3am (1pm open Sundays). This resort is marketed as an exclusive club, and their OTB office features its own signature drinks.
West Virginia Horse Betting Sites
Websites and apps which allow bets on horse and greyhounds are legal in West Virginia. These are US sites, which operate using existing Advance Deposit Wagering laws. You will access the same pari-mutuel pools you would if you were betting at the track or an OTB office.
Big sites in this category include BetAmerica. This brand has expanded into full sports betting in New Jersey. Others include TVG and TwinSpires.
West Virginia Lottery Games
The Lottery Commission is playing an important role in the upcoming rollout of online gambling. This will be the licensing and regulatory body for the new gambling apps and websites.
Lottery games started in WV in 1986. There are multiple draws each week, and WV players can get multi-state draw tickets including the PowerBall. Video lottery terminals and scratch off cards are also part of the lottery remit. You need to be 18+ to buy lottery tickets, and over 21 to play the terminals.
As in many states, the money raised through the lottery goes to education and other good causes. In its lifetime the West Virginia state lottery has raised a huge $9 billion for these causes. In many states, lottery and casino gambling activities are regulated separately. In WV, the lottery commission has jurisdiction over slot machines.
Bingo Halls and Charity Gambling in West Virginia
Bingo halls can be found throughout WV. These operate on a small stakes and charity gambling basis. The statutes require the cause to be ‘Charitable or public service activity’. Other charity gambling laws include the ability to run draws and sweepstakes style contests.
Poker & Cardrooms in West Virginia
Online poker is legal in West Virginia and was included in H 2934. This is scheduled to be the last of the three main new WV online gambling verticals – with sports betting and casino games going first.
With a smaller population, WV would significantly benefit from joining inter-state player pools. This would mean more choice of games, bigger tournaments and big promotions become possible.
Merging more states’ players into shared poker rooms is waiting for the outcome of appeals at the Supreme Court against various challenges to the 1963 Wire Act.
In states which already have regulated online poker sites, many big global brands have entered into partnerships with local casino license holders. These include Party Poker, 888 and PokerStars. Game formats available include cash games (the standard real money betting format), tournaments, sit n goes (including lottery sit n goes) and fast-fold poker. With smaller player pools, only the most popular poker variations in Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha are available.
Live poker rooms can be found in 5 venues in West Virginia. These are as follows:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races: 16 Tables
- The Greenbrier at White Sulphur Springs: 2 Tables
- Mardi Gras Casino at Nitro, WV: 24 Tables
- Mountaineer Casino, New Cumberland: 14 Tables
- Wheeling Island Casino, Wheeling WV: 9 Tables
Famous poker players from the Mountain state include Jason Koon. This poker pro has a long list of tournament successes both live and online. Notable wins include $1 million for 1st place in the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, and a runner up spot in the 2013 Bellagio Cup for more than $300,000. Koon’s all-time winnings exceed $28 million.
Poker home games are not explicitly legal under West Virginia laws – though the wording is dated and ambiguous. There are no reports of home games being stopped. As in many other states, enforcement action does not usually happen for recreational games where nobody is making a profit from hosting / running the game.
Wrapping Up: Gambling in West Virginia
Residents of WV already have a lot of choices for gambling. These cover all the main ways to gamble, ranging from betting on horse races and sports to casino games and lottery tickets. With the ‘West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act’ act of 2018, things got even better. This allowed for sportsbooks at the live casino venues, and for online gambling. Sports betting is already available via websites and apps – with casino gambling to follow soon.
While we are not yet sure which of the casino and poker brands will partner with the license holders, there are some big clues as to the candidates available by looking at both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.