Sports betting came to West Virginia on Thursday, officially making the state the fifth to launch legal wagering and the fourth since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition in May.
Shortly before noon on Thursday, state Delegate Jason Barrett walked into the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, strode up to the sportsbook window and placed a $50 wager on West Virginia University winning the national football championship. Barrett stands to collect over $3k should his homer prediction prove accurate.
Penn National Gaming (PNG) announced earlier this month that its West Virginia property would begin taking wagers on Saturday, September 1, but the William Hill-powered sportsbook decided to hold a ‘soft launch’ on Thursday.
Despite the premature speculation, the property still plans to have some official ‘grand opening’ hoopla on Saturday morning. PNG announced last week that former NFL quarterback and broadcaster Joe Theismann will be on hand for the event.
The West Virginia Lottery Commission’s sports betting regulations allow operators to launch online and mobile wagering channels, but the West Virginia Metro News reported that the Hollywood property’s mobile betting app was still “a few weeks away from implementation.”
The members-only Greenbrier Resort appears the most likely candidate to become the next one of the state’s five casinos to launch wagering. The Greenbrier has picked the newly empowered FanDuel Group to supply its betting technology.
Looking further south, two more Mississippi casinos — the Pearl River Resort in Choctaw and the Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport – launched their own sports betting operations on Thursday. Two Caesars Entertainment casinos and Churchill Downs Inc’s Riverwalk property in Vicksburg went live earlier this month. Unlike West Virginia, all Mississippi betting must take place on casino grounds.