West Virginia Sportsbooks
While there have been legal West Virginia sportsbooks available on the Internet via overseas, offshore services for decades, there hasn’t been a way to access local WV betting shops inside state borders. Thanks to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), no other state except Nevada could legally offer sports betting of any kind to their residents (except horse racing betting, which was carved out and allowed to be regulated by each state itself).
Thankfully, PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018, leading the way to legal West Virginia sportsbooks operating inside the state. However, it will likely take several months (and potentially more than a year) before online sports betting is available in WV, and – in the meantime – it remains 100% legal to continue using offshore sportsbooks and betting shops like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BetDSI, and other top West Virginia service providers.
PASPA has a storied history, from its shortsighted introduction and botched implementation to the obvious fact that it was wildly unconstitutional from the start yet remained completely ignored by congress. Fortunately, the law has finally been struck down. However, it remains to be seen how the recent Supreme Court ruling on PASPA impacts sports betting in West Virginia. There are several unknowns to consider, and many of these variables could potentially lead to drastically different implementations of on-land and online sports betting in the region. There are also the effects of PASPA on offshore sportsbooks to consider, as these could range from minimal to catastrophic and everywhere in between.
First and foremost, the SCOTUS decision to overturn PASPA (6-3) is what opened the door to state-based regulation of all sports betting within that state’s borders. West Virginia closely watched the case during its years going through the federal court system, and they anticipated the law’s dismissal. As such, they themselves already had a legal framework in place – passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor – to allow sports betting in West Virginia (SB 415). With the preemptive law in the works and the downfall of PASPA, it was only a matter of time before legal sports betting in West Virginia was able to launch. The first West Virginia sportsbook opened its doors on September 1st, 2018 at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, with full-scale, single-game wagering on a wide range of sports. That said, whatever online component the state is planning will likely take longer to roll out to the populace, so for maximum convenience, offshore, legal West Virginia sportsbooks (Bovada et al.) are the way to go.
Of course, there’s a chance that – down the road – the PASPA ruling could have deleterious effects on the overseas bookmaking business. The state could bar residents from accessing such sites in order to force them to use a WV-sanctioned solution, or the WV government could simply pass laws prohibiting the placing of sports bets with such services in the first place.
Of course, it’s equally likely that the state will do nothing to combat its overseas competition, relying instead on the convenience and patriotism factors associated with “betting at home.” It also remains to be seen whether or not local WV sports betting shops will accept cryptocurrencies, as that could be a major differentiator between West Virginia sports betting and offshore sports betting (where all the top sites already take Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.).
Currently, West Virginia has passed one law – SB 415, or the West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act (signed March 3, 2018) – that addresses sports betting inside state borders. In fact, of all the first states to employ sports betting legislation of any kind in the wake of PASPA’s elimination, West Virginia’s bill is by far the most comprehensive.
First and foremost, SB 415 makes it clear that the state will permit wagering “on the results of certain professional or collegiate sports or athletic events” and that the duties to regulate this new betting industry fall to the West Virginia Lottery, an already-established government gaming agency. Licensees granted the right to offer WV sports betting will have to pay a service fee of $100,000 to the West Virginia Lottery every five years to keep their licenses active.
The law also suggests that those operating legal West Virginia sportsbooks will be charged a weekly “privilege tax” of 10% of the adjusted gross sports wagering receipts. This is a much heavier taxation rate than that employed at Las Vegas casinos, and it remains to be seen whether or not a West Virginia sportsbook can survive the hit without passing along its losses to the consumer in the form of larger house takes (i.e. less profitable wagers for the sports bettor).
Because the West Virginia Lottery will be in charge of regulating the sports betting industry in the state, there might be some confusion about what locations will actually offer on-site sports betting to WV residents and visitors. Fortunately, SB 415 clarifies that, though the WV Lottery is the regulating agency, sports betting will be allowed at area casinos, racetracks, and any other location where licensed video lottery terminal operators are situated. Right now, however, SB 415 limits sports betting to a total of five licensees in the state. As the popularity of the pastime grows locally, that number will likely be increased to meet regional demand.
SB 415 makes plain the fact that there will be mobile sports betting in West Virginia offered through official, state-sanctioned channels. §29-22D-6e spells out the following: “A West Virginia Lottery sports wagering license authorizes the operation of…sports wagering…through any mobile application or other digital platforms approved by the commission.”
Obviously, no state-based solution will be remotely feasible without a component offering access to legal West Virginia sportsbooks over the Internet and via your mobile device. The vast majority of WV residents use their iPhones and Androids for nearly all of their Internet-based activities, and it would be senseless to try to buck that trend. In other words, the outlook for mobile sports betting at legal West Virginia sportsbooks is extremely positive. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s strictly a matter of “when.”
Of course, it’s already perfectly legal to bet at an offshore sportsbook on your mobile device, and – depending on how the general WV sports betting taxation scheme works out – you might get far better deals wagering with these foreign brands than you will using local WV wagering apps. Yes, state-based mobile betting apps will likely be “native,” meaning that they’ll be purpose-built and available on the Apple App Store and in Google Play, but the current mobile portals offered by sites like Bovada, SportsBetting, and the other main players are already substantially better than their desktop or laptop computer counterparts. Regardless of who puts out the most polished app or web app, however, the upshot remains that mobile betting at offshore sportsbooks is still 100% legal in West Virginia (and the rest of the US).
Because of the legalization of sports betting in West Virginia, there are sure to be a number of first-time bettors coming into the fold. Naturally, sports betting can seem like a complex, tricky endeavor to the beginner, but that doesn’t have to be the case. This beginner’s guide to sports betting in West Virginia is brief but comprehensive, and it will teach you how to read odds, how to play different wager types, what kinds of sportsbook deposits and sportsbook withdrawals are best for your needs, whether or not you should take a deposit bonus, and more.
You’ll learn bankroll management, the ins and outs of handicapping teams and players, and everything there is to know about sports betting’s newest craze, live betting. Most of this stuff is common sense, of course, but it will definitely help your cause to have a little background knowledge of all the pertinent aspects of the sports betting industry.
Of all the different strategies available to West Virginia sports bettors, the most important to keep in mind is the easy act of shopping lines. It is the simplest, most straightforward, and most profitable edge any user of legal West Virginia sportsbooks can take advantage of. By signing up at multiple different online sportsbooks, you can compare the given odds for every single contest, placing your wagers with the bookmaker that has the best payout for your pick.
Additionally, you’ll sometimes even be able to place wagers on different sides of the same bet at different sportsbooks, which is called “playing the middle,” an advanced form of hedging your bets. (This can be quite profitable if done often enough.)
However, regardless of what your specific strategies are, having access to multiple books with multiple different lines can make you a lot more money than doing business with only one of the many legal West Virginia sportsbooks out there.