Sports Betting News

West Virginia Sports Betting Looks To Rally After Slow Start

This November, WV sports betting operators were busier than ever. In the first two weeks of the month, weekly revenue reached record numbers previously only seen during launch week.

WV Sportsbooks accepted wagers totaling $6 million. This may sound impressive in comparison to the industry’s track record in West Virginia, but it falls short of experts’ expectations for overall expansion in the state.

If someone were to point fingers, they wouldn’t have to look very far. The state elongated the rollout time for all WV online sports betting operators, which resulted in the fact that by October, almost three months after the official market launch, there was still only one place for locals to place bets.

William Hill changed all that when it launched its William Hill Sportsbook at Mountaineer Casino on Wednesday. New Cumberland might just turn out to be a strategic location, given that it’s both only 50 miles from Pittsburgh and right on the Ohio border.

With this new addition, West Virginia sports betting will look to improve.

WV Sports Betting To Pick Up The Pace

Prior to William Hill launching in West Virginia, there were two official sportsbooks in the state – Hollywood Casino Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. For most locals, the choice between the two had already been made for them since the FanDuel Sportsbook only operates privately at The Greenbrier. Therefore, the decision was simple. Now, William Hill Sportsbook at Mountaineer Casino adds a second option.

With the FanDuel Sportsbook breaking away from its online pattern, in-person sports betting has generated only a minor profit for the first half of November. The WV sports betting operator weekly handled only $150,000 in tickets and got to keep less than 10% of it due to significant losses. In fact, since it launched back in September, FanDuel Sportsbook has only earned $4,619.99. This amounts to $500 a week!

William Hill at Hollywood, who handles nearly 20 times as much from weekly ticket purchases, is also experiencing a sudden leak in its revenue. Over $21 million has found its way through the William Hill Hollywood sportsbook since it launched, and over $5.5 million of it was handled in the first two weeks of November.

Being the market leader doesn’t make you immune to losses in WV sports betting. Public tickets have been coming through at an exceptionally high rate recently. This doesn’t necessarily mean the market is in danger, as we have seen it happen in other states as well.  If we take a look at the overall numbers, $2,732,541 in WV sports betting revenue as opposed to $22,406,637 in handle sounds about right.

William Hill Sportsbook Look To Dominate West Virginia Sports Betting

Back when regulators were reviewing the case for legalized WV sports betting, they estimated that the market would return $5.5 million in taxes at the end of its first year. This projection may have seemed realistic at the time when the market promised the launch of five sportsbooks and statewide online sports betting.

At its current state, WV sports betting falls short of these predictions, to say the least. The state has only picked up less than $300,000 in taxes and if it continues at this rate, it will be about $4.3 million behind schedule by the end of year one.

And the time for football season traffic to save the day is running out.

The market won’t balance itself out before William Hill has some competition. At the moment it’s the only sportsbook running operations publicly, with four other West Virginia casinos waiting in line to launch.

They’ve all received their WV sports betting licenses, but seem to be behind schedule in testing, logistics and execution. Both Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island are owned by Delaware North, who in turn have entered a partnership with Miomni covering both gaming and betting.

Ironically enough, the last casino to apply for a license, Mountaineer Casino,  has already gained an advantage by opening its doors ahead of the competition.

Hollywood Casino and William Hill, on the other hand, must not be too dissatisfied with the situation. Erich Zimny, VP of Racing & Sports Operations at the casino, said the company is very pleased with the traffic and engagement the sportsbook has brought in. At this point, the William Hill sportsbook has become almost synonymous with WV sports betting – it’s the place where most beginner bettors will learn the sports betting vocabulary, place their first bets and, ultimately, watch most of the games of this year’s major league seasons.

West Virginia Sports Betting’s Future

When we take a look at the growth of the WV sports betting market 11 weeks into its launch, it’s hard to miss a pattern. Fan engagement is growing and along with it, so is the capital handled by William Hill and FanDuel Sportsbook. Revenue growth, however, remains linear.

In New Jersey, it’s clear that online sportsbooks are responsible for the exponential growth of sports betting revenue. Recent reports show mobile betting brings in two-thirds of the traffic in NJ. There are no WV online sportsbooks 11 weeks into the market’s development and at this point, it’s a lot more than a missed opportunity – it’s a matter of financial urgency.

What’s even more worrisome is how the launch of online PA sports betting will affect West Virginia. It’s entirely possible that WV bettors might be tempted to take a trip across the border for more diverse sports betting market until the same options can be found at home.

So, what is causing the stagnation of WV sports betting? In all honesty, the source is still unclear but it’s safe to bet that the operators themselves aren’t behind it. The West Virginia Lottery, however, might have something to do with it since it’s responsible for sports betting administration and has consistently refused to comment on the situation.