• After going dark almost right out of the gate, WV online sports betting looks poised for an impending return.
  • In order to realize maximum revenue potential, online wagering in the state is a must.
  • Five separate online vendor licenses have been granted by the West Virginia Lottery.

CHARLESTON, W.V. – West Virginia was one of the first states in the US to launch public-facing sportsbooks after the overturn of the federal ban. However, adoption was slow and workable revenues were largely nonexistent.

When the state launched its books’ online component, things immediately began to look up. However, that ubiquitous wagering option – provided by Delaware North and powered by BetLucky and Miomni Gaming – was gutted shortly after launch.

When this online gaming platform went dark, it took with it both of Delaware North’s West Virginia properties’ physical sportsbooks, too. As a result, wagering at both the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort has been suspended indefinitely.

While the public has been largely kept out of the loop, the dispute has to do with apparently irreconcilable licensing and disclosure issues between Delaware North’s BetLucky, partner Miomni, and backend brand Entergaming.

On March 29, Delaware North finally shed some light on the situation, releasing a statement explaining the unfortunate developments:

“We have notified the West Virginia Lottery Commission that Delaware North is taking steps to terminate its partnership with Miomni Gaming, our management services provider in West Virginia. Since March 6, Miomni’s contract dispute with third-party technology supplier Entergaming has resulted in our inability to accept new sports wagers at our Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casino sports-betting operations as well as via the BetLucky.com mobile app.”

West Virginia Online Sports Betting Resurfaces

Fortunately, a new resolution seems to be in the works, and online wagering is poised to make its much-needed return to the West Virginia marketplace.

Just last Wednesday, the West Virginia Lottery, which oversees sports wagering in the state, approved one-year licenses for five different online sportsbook operators to do business in the state. Three of these brands are customer-facing book operators, while two are behind-the-scenes technology platform vendors.

The five companies that have online betting licenses in West Virginia are:

  • FanDuel – partnered with The Greenbrier for land-based and online operations, Hollywood Casino for land-based operations.
  • DraftKings – partnered with Hollywood Casino for online operations.
  • William Hill – partnered with the Mountaineer Casino for land-based and online operations.
  • IGT – online sports betting processor to work in tandem with any or all of the above.
  • GeoComply – geofencing compliance vendor to work in tandem with any or all of the above.

Interestingly, while the online sports betting market in West Virginia is about to take off, the two Delaware North venues – who led the initial charge – are still without viable partnerships.

It is unclear how (or even if) any of the new online-licensed vendors will work with Delaware North and its BetLucky property going forward. Analysts in the industry suggest that Delaware North’s lawsuit against Miomni will have to be resolved before fresh partnerships can be established.

As a result, it could be many months – or even years – before either Wheeling Island or the Mardi Gras Casino will be able to offer online or venue-based sports wagering.

Nevertheless, from a consumer-facing perspective, progress is picking up tremendous steam as all five fresh licensees are working together.

John Myers, director of the West Virginia Lottery, last week summed up the current status of online gaming in the state.

“We’ve been working on the platform, how it’s set up, where its servers are located, making sure they are complying with the Wire Act. We’ve made a lot of progress there in the last few weeks. Hopefully, it won’t be as long as it has.”

While there is no hard deadline or published timeline for the launch of a second try at online West Virginia sports betting, it’s a good bet that everything will be up and running in time for the 2019-2020 NFL season.

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