This week, West Virginia officially became the fifth state to legalize online gambling. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice had until last week to sign or veto the bill before it automatically became the law of the land. West Virginia online poker and online casinos will likely be coming to the state sometime in early 2020.
In passing online gambling, West Virginia joins the four other states in legalizing comprehensive online gambling:
- Nevada (online poker, launched in September 2013)
- New Jersey (online poker and casinos launched in November 2013)
- Delaware (online poker and casinos launched in August 2013)
- Pennsylvania (legalized in October 2017, expected to launch in the summer of 2019)
WV online gambling details
With the package of the new law, West Virginia now authorizes the state’s five land-based casinos to offer online gambling, which consists online poker and online casinos. Last year, West Virginia casinos also began offering sports betting, which included the launch of WV online sportsbetting in December of last year when the Wheeling Island Casino and the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort opened up wagering through BetLucky.
Online casinos will likely be the focus for online gambling in the state, at least initially. West Virginia’s relatively small population of 1.8 million could hinder growth of online gambling, especially as multi-state player pools are in doubt at the U.S. Department of Justice reversed their opinion on the Wire Act earlier this year.
To enter the market, the WV casinos will need to apply for a permit that will cost $250,000 upfront and another $100,000 every five years. Online gambling revenue will also be taxed at a 15% rate.
The current West Virginia casinos that are eligible to offer online gambling:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort
- The Casino Club at the Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel and Casino
Given that states have typically taken anywhere from 9 months to a couple years to launch online gambling, it is expected that West Virginians could play as early as the beginning of 2020. The state has already went live with online sports betting, but West Virginia’s only operator is currently having supplier issues. Whether that relatively quick launch — and subsequent troubles — affects the timing of West Virginia online gambling remains to be seen.