West Virginia Gambling

West Virginia has emerged as an early-mover in online gambling recently with the passage of numerous laws significantly expanding WV residents’ gaming options. Most forms of online gambling and sports betting are now legal to complement the state’s existing land-based casinos and racetracks.

The full list of legal WV gambling activities includes:

  • Casinos: Online and in-person
  • Sports betting: Online and in-person
  • Poker: Online and in-person
  • Fantasy sports: Online and in-person
  • Horse racing betting: Online and in-person
  • Lottery: In-person
  • Bingo: Online and in-person
  • Games of skill: Online and in-person

WV gambling law is not particularly complex from the player’s point of view, but there are some important things to know regarding what’s legal, what’s not and where you can play safely in a regulated environment.

The remainder of this guide will explain how the various forms of gambling are regulated in West Virginia, where to play online and then we’ll wrap things up with an overview of the state’s various gaming laws.

Online Gambling in West Virginia

West Virginia legalized online casino games and poker in March 2019 with a piece of legislation called the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. The bill has officially become the law of the land, but it will still be some time before we can play online as the WV Lottery Commission draws up regulations and begins the process of approving each casino site to go live.

WV online gambling law allows each of the state’s five casinos to apply for an online gambling license. It remains unknown at this point whether or not regulations will allow each land-based casino to operate more than one gambling website.

However, we can look to how the WV Lottery Commission regulates online sports betting for a hint at what may come. Online sportsbooks were legalized with a different law in 2018 and allow each casino to operate up to three separate betting sites. If the Commission follows a similar model, we may end up with each land-based casino operating up to three online casinos in partnership with various software providers.

Types of Games to be Offered Online

Based on the text of the online gambling law approved in 2019, licensed casino sites will be able to offer a wide variety of games. The definition of “authorized interactive games” specifically mentions slots and table games, but also adds that it includes “other games” approved by the Lottery Commission.

This means we are likely to see a standard assortment of games on offer fairly early on. Games likely to be approved will include:

  • Online slots
  • Blackjack
  • Roulette
  • Craps
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Baccarat
  • And more…

The way the law is written leaves the door open to all the same types of games you would find at a regular land-based casino. Additionally, other games such as bingo could very well be approved at some point. Online bingo is not specifically mentioned in the law, but we can find nothing indicating the WV Lottery Commission will need to prohibit bingo.

WV Casinos Approved to Offer Online Gambling

All five of West Virginia’s existing land-based casinos will be able to apply for an online gambling permit. There is no reason to believe any of those casinos will pass on the opportunity to take their games online, so we can expect to see five casino sites at a minimum.

Each WV casino will be permitted to work with at least one experienced software provider to take its games online. In other states, this model has led to major, international gaming brands such as 888 and William Hill making their debut in the US.

The advantage of this model is it allows established brands to finally access the US market legally while giving land-based casinos a hand-up in making the transition to online gaming. We do not yet know which software providers each casino will choose to operate its online and mobile gambling site, but it is possible some casinos will opt to extend existing sponsorships they have in place to operate their mobile sportsbooks.

Below, you can see which operator each casino is partnered with to run its sports betting operations. There are no guarantees these partnerships will be expanded to include online gambling, but there is a good chance some of these partnerships will be amended to include casino games.

Land-Based Casino Operating Partner
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races William Hill for retail; DraftKings for mobile
Mardi Gras Casino To be determined*
Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack To be determined*
Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort William Hill
Casino Club at The Greenbrier FanDuel

*Note: Sister properties Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island (both owned by hospitality company Delaware North) were formerly aligned with online gaming company Miomni. That partnership was terminated in March 2019 after internal problems at Miomni caused the sportsbooks at both casinos to go offline with no advance warning. It remains to be seen who Delaware North will choose to replace Miomni.

Land-Based Casinos in WV

The WV casino industry began in 1994 when the state’s four racetracks were authorized to install slot machines to boost revenue. Table games were approved in 2007 to make every track a full-fledged racetrack-casino (racino).

A fifth casino was legalized in 2008 when voters in Greenbrier County approved gambling at the historic Greenbrier Resort through a ballot measure. A temporary casino opened in 2009 and the permanent Casino Club at The Greenbrier opened in 2010.

West Virginia is now home to five casinos:

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

750 Hollywood Drive
Charles Town, WV 25414

Mardi Gras Casino

1 Greyhound Drive
Cross Lanes, WV 25313

Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack

1 South Stone Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort

1420 Mountaineer Circle
New Cumberland, WV 26047

Casino Club at the Greenbrier

101 Main Street, West
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986

Note: The Casino Club at Greenbrier was approved with special legislation and is subject to unique restrictions regarding who may visit the casino. Under current gaming laws, the casino is only open to:

  • Overnight guests of The Greenbrier
  • Attendees of an event or convention when more than 400 rooms are occupied
  • Members of The Greenbrier Golf & Tennis Club
  • Members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club

WV Video Lottery Terminals

The slot machines found at casinos, bars and restaurants throughout West Virginia are technically classified as video lottery terminals (VLTs) due to being control by the state lottery. In function, they are no different than traditional slots and offer similar payout rates depending on the particular game.

Under West Virginia gambling law, bars and other adult-oriented environments with liquor licenses are allowed to host up to seven VLTs. About 1,160 bars, restaurants and fraternal organizations have installed VLTs to date and the law allows a maximum of 9,000 machines to be in operation across the state. Currently, there are about 7,200 VLTs active in WV.

West Virginia VLTs are required by law to accept wagers no larger than $2.00 and must provide a theoretical return to players of 80% to 95%. In other words, every $100 put into machines must result in an average of $80 to $95 worth of payouts over the long term.

VLTs are the second-largest source of revenue for the West Virginia Lottery, second only to casino slots. Thus, it is little surprise lawmakers have attempted more than once to expand VLT gaming in the state.

A law approved in 2017 increased the maximum number of machines allowed in any one location from five to seven. Just two years later, lawmakers again attempted to expand VLT gaming by increasing the number of retail locations any one licensee may operate, increasing the maximum bet from $2.00 to $5.00 and allowing all denominations of currency to be accepted (VLTs may currently accept bills no larger than $20).

West Virginia Sports Betting

West Virginia legalized in-person and mobile sports betting in 2018 as the Supreme Court was still hearing Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association to determine the constitutionality of the federal sports betting prohibition.

The case was undecided at the time the WV sports betting law was passed, but West Virginia wanted to be ready to move quickly should the case result in a change of federal law. The Supreme Court delivered an opinion in May 2018 declaring the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. This cleared the way for legal sports betting in West Virginia.

WV Mobile Sports Betting

Land-based casinos in West Virginia are authorized to operate online and mobile sportsbooks. All five casinos have received licenses to date and will be permitted to go live once their mobile apps and websites are approved by the WV Lottery Commission.

WV sports betting regulations allow each casino to operate up to three “skins,” or individually branded betting sites. This means if all five casinos take full advantage, we will have a total of 15 mobile sportsbooks to choose from in West Virginia in the future at full capacity.

Mobile sports betting in West Virginia got off to a rocky start with one betting app called BetLucky launching in December 2018 only to abruptly close three months later. Officials with BetLucky parent company Delaware North blamed the closure on an unspecified contract dispute between its former software provider (a company named Miomni) and a third party.

To make things worse, BetLucky WV and Delaware North were slow to answer questions and issue payouts on pending wagers. BetLucky ultimately paid out all outstanding wagers, but the fact the service was completely shut down due to its software provider’s internal problems was an embarrassment for the newly-regulated industry.

Delaware North has since fired Miomni and will be replacing it with another company to run its mobile and retail operations. Meanwhile, other WV casinos are preparing their own mobile betting apps. There are no firm launch dates as of now, but all indications are that new WV betting sites should be launching within months.

WV In-Person Sportsbooks

Each of the five casinos in West Virginia is authorized to offer in-person sports betting to complement its mobile offerings. There were five retail sportsbooks to choose from at one point, but Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island have had to suspend their sports betting operations as they find a new technology provider to replace Miomni.

Here’s where you can bet on sports in West Virginia:

Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino

Hours:

  • Mon-Thurs: 10 AM – 12 AM
  • Fri: 10 AM – 1 AM
  • Sat: 9 AM – 1 AM
  • Sun: 10 AM – 12 AM

750 Hollywood Drive
Charles Town, WV 25414

FanDuel Sportsbook at the Greenbrier

Hours:

  • Mon-Thurs: 11 AM – 1 AM
  • Fri-Sat: 11 AM – 4 AM
  • Sun: 1 PM – 1 AM

101 Main Street, West
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986

William Hill Sportsbook at Mountaineer

Hours:

  • Mon-Thurs: 10 AM – 12 AM
  • Fri: 10 AM – 1 AM
  • Sat: 9 AM – 1 AM
  • Sun: 9 AM – 12 AM

1420 Mountaineer Circle
New Cumberland, WV 26047

Sportsbook at Mardi Gras Casino

Sportsbook temporarily closed as Delaware North seeks a new sports betting services provider.

Hours:

  • To be determined

1 Greyhound Drive
Cross Lanes, WV 25313

Sportsbook at Wheeling Island

Sportsbook temporarily closed as Delaware North seeks a new sports betting services provider.

Hours:

  • To be determined

1 South Stone Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

Poker in West Virginia

West Virginia gambling laws allow land-based casinos to offer in-person and online poker. In-person poker came to WV in 2007 through a law allowing each of the state’s four racetracks to offer table games such as poker, blackjack and so on. The Casino Club at Greenbrier followed suit when it opened in 2009.

WV Poker Sites

Poker sites were legalized in 2019 through the same gaming bill that authorized the state’s five casinos to take their operations online. No WV poker sites have launched as of this writing, but that may change within months.

One thing to keep in mind regarding online poker in West Virginia is the state’s low population. With about 1.8 million residents, WV is not a super attractive market for online poker. Even in Nevada (3 million) and New Jersey (9 million), poker sites have struggled to attract significant numbers of players.

Some WV gambling sites are likely to launch with casino games only until WV partners with other states to join the multi-state poker network. Doing so would allow licensed poker sites to tap into a much larger player pool extending beyond West Virginia borders.

In-Person Poker Rooms

Hollywood Casino Poker Room

  • 16 Tables
  • Frequent tournaments
  • Texas Holdem, Omaha and 8/b

750 Hollywood Drive
Charles Town, WV 25414

River Poker Room at Mountaineer

  • 12 Tables
  • Daily tournaments
  • Open 24 hours a day

1420 Mountaineer Circle
New Cumberland, WV 26047

Poker Room at the Greenbrier

  • 2 Tables
  • Medium-sized tournaments
  • $2/$5 no-limit cash games

101 Main Street, West
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986

Big Easy Poker Room at Mardi Gras

  • 24 Tables
  • $3/$6 fixed limit up to $10/$25 NL
  • Texas Holdem, Omaha and 7 Card Stud

1 Greyhound Drive
Cross Lanes, WV 25313

Wheeling Island Poker Room

  • 9 Tables
  • Open 24 hours on weekends
  • 12 PM to 2:30 AM on weekdays

1 South stone Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

Home Poker Games

Home poker games are considered unlawful in West Virginia even if the games are played in a private residence with no rake taken. The penalties for players are fairly minor with a fine ranging from $5 to $300 and probation for up to one year.

The penalties for hosting a home poker game are quite a bit stiffer with a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. The penalties increase even further for keeping an actual poker table: a $100 to $1,000 fine, a minimum of two months in jail and up to one year in jail.

Article 10 of the Virginia Code plainly states that it is illegal to host a poker game, own a poker table and to participate as a player. There are no exceptions for poker, so there’s really no way around this one. The only way to play poker legally in WV is at a licensed casino or poker site.

Fantasy Sports in West Virginia

Season-long and daily fantasy sports (DFS) are both legal in West Virginia. The major DFS sites all accept customers from WV and are not subject to special regulations. Generally speaking, the big fantasy sites are already well-regulated in other states and employ the same measures mandated in those states to protect player funds and host fair games in WV.

The most popular fantasy sites in WV are:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • FantasyDraft
  • DRAFT
  • Yahoo Daily Fantasy

DraftKings and FanDuel in particular are worth considering as they are also partnered with local casinos to offer traditional sports betting. Being able to have a single account for fantasy games and sports betting is not only simpler but may also provide better loyalty benefits.

Additionally, FanDuel and DraftKings stand out in other states for offering a superior sports betting product. That’s all on top of both being the biggest fantasy sites with the largest prize pools and greatest contest variety.

Racing Betting

In-person and online racing betting are permitted in West Virginia. This includes betting on horses and greyhound alike. In fact, both sports are legally bound to the wider gambling industry as WV law requires horse and greyhound tracks to hold a minimum number of races every year in order to retain their gambling licenses.

Even though horse racing purses have declined across the country, West Virginia racetracks maintain an active race schedule. The state also remains one of the few remaining holdouts where greyhound betting is still alive and well.

Governor Jim Justice was presented with a bill in 2017 that would have eliminated state-mandated subsidizing of greyhound racing. The greyhound tracks at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras would have been allowed to keep their gambling licenses under the law, but Governor Justice opted to veto the bill out of concern for job losses.

Legal Racing Betting Sites in WV:

  • TVG
  • BetAmerica
  • TwinSpires

List of Racetracks in WV

Horse Racing Tracks
Hollywood Casino Racetrack

750 Hollywood Drive
Charles Town, WV 25414

Mountaineer Park

1420 Mountaineer Circle
New Cumberland, WV 26047

   
Greyhound Tracks  
   
Mardi Gras Greyhound Racetrack

1 Greyhound Drive
Cross Lanes, WV 25313

Wheeling Island Greyhound Racetrack

1 South Stone Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

Off-Track Betting

Off-track betting is extremely limited in West Virginia. State law does not include any sort of wide-ranging provision allowing the spread of off-track betting locations (OTBs). Instead, the law specifically authorizes off-track betting at each of the state’s four racetracks and at the Greenbrier Resort.

This means visitors may bet on tracks from around the country at each casino and the Greenbrier, but there are no standalone OTBs anywhere else in the state. To bet on horses in WV, you’ll need to do it at one of the casinos or through an authorized betting website.

West Virginia Lottery

The West Virginia Lottery was authorized through a ballot measure in 1984 and sold its first tickets two years later. Since launching in 1986, the WV Lottery has raised billions for good causes in three major categories: public education from preschool through college, senior citizen services and tourism and state parks.

Online lottery sales are not authorized in West Virginia, but tickets and scratch cards may be purchased at any of the many authorized retailers. Additionally, video lottery terminals (VLTs) can be found at bars and fraternal organizations across the state.

Games sold by the WV Lottery:

  • Powerball: Multi-state draw game with some of the biggest jackpots in history
  • Mega Millions: Same idea as Powerball and also home to record-breaking jackpots
  • Lotto America: Another multi-state draw game with smaller prizes but much better odds
  • Daily 3: Daily three-number game with prizes up to $500
  • Daily 4: Daily four-number game with prizes up to $5,000
  • Cash 25: Six-number game with prizes up to $25,000; held four days a week
  • Keno: The WV Lottery runs keno games every five minutes with prizes as high as $100,000 off a $1 ticket
  • Scratch-Off Games: The WV Lottery has dozens of instant win scratch games on offer at any given time at prices ranging from $1 to $20

Bingo in West Virginia

Charitable organizations are permitted to host bingo games in West Virginia after receiving a license from the State Tax Commissioner. Games are open to players 18 or older and may award up to $10,000 during any single bingo event. Charitable organizations may also apply for a super bingo license to host up to one bingo event each month with a prize limit of up to $50,000.

West Virginia does not maintain a public list of approved bingo licenses, so finding your nearest bingo hall can be a bit troublesome. The good news is a fairly large number of charitable organizations have established permanent bingo halls that you can find online with a quick search.

Online Bingo

Online bingo is not yet a thing in West Virginia, but there is a possibility that changes now that online gambling is legal. The 2019 law legalizing online gambling seems to give the WV Lottery Commission a fair amount of leeway in the types of games it may approve.

Here’s what the law says about the types of games that may be authorized [emphasis ours]:

“Authorized interactive games are computerized or virtual versions of any game of chance or digital simulation thereof, including, but not limited to, casino themed slot simulations, table games, and other games approved by the commission.”

A separate law that authorizes in-person bingo states games may only be offered by qualifying charitable organizations, but that one is clearly referring to in-person games. The biggest potential roadblock to online bingo in West Virginia would be a lack of interest among licensed casino sites. There are no guarantees they’ll be interested in offering bingo.

Skill Games

West Virginia law is quite permissive when it comes to games of skill. The major skill gaming websites all operate in WV and even fantasy sports are considered to be contests of skill.

Video Games for Money

The rise of eSports in recent years has made way for casual gamers at home to put their skills to the test through the most popular console and desktop games. Each site works a bit differently, but the basic idea is to sign up for an account, choose your game, find a 1v1 match or tournament and then compete for money real money.

  • GamerSaloon.com
  • PlayersLounge.co

Real Money Strategy Games

The biggest real money strategy games website is WorldWinner.com and it accepts customers from West Virginia. While the sites mentioned above are all about the hottest new video games, World Winner focuses on strategy games such as Solitaire, Bejeweled, Scrabble, Spades and others along those lines.

These games don’t need a high-end gaming rig; they’re all pretty basic in terms of graphics. Just about any desktop or mobile device will do the job. World Winner is the largest strategy gaming site of this type and awards roughly $250,000 worth of prizes every day.

  • WorldWinner.com

WV Gambling Laws

West Virginia has a comprehensive set of gambling laws in place that address most forms of gambling. The WV code addresses some basic concepts related to playing or hosting unsanctioned games of chance, but other laws combine to cover most other forms of gambling in such a way that players have a wide range of options both in-person and online.

Most gambling in West Virginia is controlled by the state Lottery Commission, which acts as both regulator and partial beneficiary. Slots, table games, sports betting and the lottery itself are licensed and regulated by the Commission.

WV Casino Laws

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Casino gambling first came to West Virginia in 1994 with the passage of the Racetrack Video Lottery Act. This law gave the state’s four racetracks permission to install up to 400 video lottery terminals (VLTs) with the option to petition the Commission for authorization to install additional slots.

The Racetrack Video Lottery Act also implements a variety of regulations on how VLTs must operate. Detailed records must be kept, certain security standards implemented and so on. Additionally, VLTs are mandated to provide a theoretical payout percentage ranging from 80% to 95% and must have a maximum jackpot probability no greater than 1 in 17 million.

Horse and greyhound tracks are required to host at least 220 races each year to maintain their gambling licenses under the law but may petition the Lottery Commission each year to host fewer than 220 races if needed.

The West Virginia gambling landscape remained fairly static for a number of years after that until lawmakers approved the Racetrack Table Games Act in 2007. Under this law, each racetrack is authorized to operate table games provided it hosts at least 220 races each year (unless approved for a different number of races) and pays an annual licensing fee of $2.5 million.

During all this, the Greenbrier Resort was not a part of the gambling landscape. That changed in 2008 when voters in Greenbrier County approved a ballot measure permitting the resort to construct a casino. After receiving voters’ approval, lawmakers introduced and passed the Greenbrier Casino Act.

Owners of the Greenbrier had pitched the idea of a casino as a means to bring the historic resort out of bankruptcy, but lawmakers had reservations related to authorizing a fifth full-fledged casino in West Virginia. Eventually, a compromise was reached to allow the construction of a casino for resort guests only.

The compromise worked well for a while, but lawmakers later got wind of tour bus companies setting up “events” that involved renting a banquet hall for lunch. The tour bus companies would then advertise their “casino trips” without even mentioning the event in question. In short, the bus companies and Greenbrier had found a way to invite the general public to the casino contrary to the spirit of the Greenbrier Casino Act.

The rules regarding who may visit the Casino Club at The Greenbrier were changed to address that issue while still allowing the resort some leeway in attracting customers to the casino. Today, the Casino Club is open to:

  • Overnight resort guests
  • Members of The Greenbrier Sporting club
  • Members of The Greenbrier Golf & Tennis Club
  • Attendees of an event or convention staying off-property when more than 400 rooms are occupied

That all brings us up to today where there are 5 casinos in total; four racinos (racetracks with casinos) and one semi-private casino club.

Online Gambling Laws

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Online gambling was legalized in WV with the passage of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act in March 2019. As the legislature noted in the bill itself, the rationale behind the bill was multifold:

  • Federal law gives states the ability to make decisions such as authorizing online gambling
  • The state constitution permits the WV Lottery to run gambling-style games
  • It is “in the best interests” of the state to operate online gambling
  • Illegal, offshore sites offer few protections for players and no tax benefit for the state; therefore, it is better that online gambling be brought under the regulatory umbrella of the state

The bill moved through the legislative process fairly quickly over the first few months of 2019 with bipartisan support before being sent to the governor’s desk. Governor Jim Justice refused to sign the bill, but also did not veto it. Instead, he allowed the bill to pass into law without his signature.

The Governor did not explain his reason for not signing the bill, but a likely explanation is the simple fact that he owns the Greenbrier resort and stands to personally benefit from the resort being able to offer online gambling. His refusal to sign the bill may have been a matter of not wanting to appear conflicted.

Whatever his reasoning, Governor Justice let the bill become law and the state’s land-based casinos were granted the ability to apply for online gambling licenses. Licensing, regulation and oversight powers all fall under the purview of the WV Lottery Commission.

The bill notes in its definition of gambling that sports betting, fantasy contests and video lottery games are all managed by different laws and are not to be offered by licensed WV casino sites.

Aside from those specific exceptions, the WV Lottery Commission is granted wide powers in authorizing other types of casino games for online play. Slots, table games, poker, bingo and many others may potentially be authorized by the Lottery Commission.

Key points from the online gambling bill:

  • Five online gambling licenses may be issued, one for each land-based casino
  • Licensees issued at a cost of $250,000 and may be renewed every five years for $100,000
  • WV Lottery Commission is allowed to enter agreements with other online gambling jurisdictions. This is particularly handy for online poker as such agreements may be formed to allow cross-border player sharing.
  • 15% tax on adjusted gross revenue for online casino operators

The WV Lottery Interactive Wagering Act does not specify how many “skins” or individually-branded gambling sites each land-based casino will be allowed to run. That decision will be left to the Commission.

We can tell from the law that each casino will be able to operate one gambling site at a minimum, but it is entirely possible multiple skins will be permitted as well. The WV sports betting law, for example, allows each land-based casino to operate up to three online betting skins.

Sports Betting Laws

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West Virginia legalized in-person and online sports betting in 2018 after passing the Lottery Sports Wagering Act. The law was introduced as SB 415 in January 2018 and made quick progress through the approval process. The House and Senate sent the bill to Governor Justice in March and he allowed it to pass into law without his signature.

As the title of the law indicates, sports betting is regulated by the state Lottery Commission. The Act tasks the Commission with issuing licenses, drafting additional regulations and ensuring compliance with all rules.

Under the Sports Wagering Act, each land-based casino in West Virginia was invited to apply for a license to offer in-person and mobile sports betting. The WV Lottery issued additional regulations several months later and all five casinos successfully applied for licenses. Each casino paid $100,000 for its license and is subject to a $100,000 renewal fee every five years.

The tax rate on sports betting operators is set at 10% of adjusted gross receipts. The law defines “adjusted gross receipts” as total money paid in to licensed operators minus winnings paid out to customers.

The law allows most forms of professional and college sports betting. This includes traditional sports wagers such as point spreads and moneylines as well as other forms of betting such as exchange wagering (where people bet against one another rather than against the book) and pools.

Mobile sportsbooks are also authorized by the law to accept wagers from customers located within West Virginia or in other jurisdictions with which the state has an agreement facilitating interstate betting. In other words, this means NJ and WV could potentially enter an agreement one day allowing players from both states to place wagers at betting sites authorized in either state.

Additional regulations issued by the Lottery Commission provide more detailed rules related to security standards, the amount of money operators must keep on hand and so on. The rules also authorize operators to place betting kiosks in locations approved by the lottery.

It also within these regulations that we find the important “skins” rule that allows each licensed sportsbook to operate up to three independently-branded betting websites and accompanying mobile apps. This means West Virginia may have up to 15 official sports betting apps and websites, each operated by one of the state’s five casinos in partnership with an approved service provider.

Video Lottery Terminal Law

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Video lottery terminals (VLTs) were legalized in 2001 with the passage of the Limited Video Lottery Act. This act permits the WV Lottery to install up to five VLTs in qualifying businesses that hold a liquor license and that meet other certain requirements as detailed below.

The Limited Video Lottery Act specifies that no more than 9,000 VLTs may operate in the state and that individual locations may install no more than seven machines. Each machine is designed to resemble a slot or other casino game, must offer a payout rate of 80-95%, accept wagers no larger than $2 and may not accept bills larger than $20.

Qualifying retailers are those who have a Class “A” Private Club or Non-Intoxicating Beer (Tavern) License from the WV Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. In 2017, an amendment to the law allowed qualifying truck stops to install VLTs provided they meet these requirements:

  • Truck stop has a convenience store
  • Has at least 50 parking spaces
  • Has separate diesel refueling islands for commercial vehicles
  • Has overnight parking spaces for commercial vehicles
  • Is open 24 hours a day

WV Poker Laws

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The same laws that regulate land-based casinos and online casinos in WV also authorize poker. Each of West Virginia’s brick-and-mortar casinos maintains an active poker room.

Social and home poker games are prohibited under WV law (Chapter 61, Article 10 of the WV Code). WV law clearly states that wagering anything on a game of chance or playing at any “gaming table” except for those games specifically authorized by the WV Lottery Commission is a violation.

Online poker is not specifically mentioned in West Virginia’s online gambling law, but we can reasonably predict it will be authorized at some point by the Lottery Commission. Additionally, the gambling law allows the Commission to reach interstate agreements that could potentially allow licensed poker sites to seat players from multiple states at the same table.

Fantasy Sports Law

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Daily fantasy sports are legal in West Virginia despite the state never passing a law to formally regulate the industry. While numerous states have approved DFS legislation, West Virginia has taken a hands-off approach and instead regulates fantasy sites the same as any other business.

The issue of legality was posed to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in 2016 and he responded with an opinion stating it is his belief that fantasy contests are “determined predominantly by skill, knowledge, and athlete performance” rather than by chance.

AG Morrisey made the point that West Virginia law only requires a game to be “wholly or predominantly” determined by chance to classify as gambling. This is a more lenient definition of gambling than exists in some other states, which only require that a game be partially determined by chance.

Therefore, the AG’s opinion is that fantasy sports contests are already legal in West Virginia and no further action needs to be taken. The state legislature could introduce a law to regulate DFS sites at any time, but sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel are free to operate right now under current law.

Racing Betting Laws in West Virginia

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Parimutuel horse and greyhound betting is legal in West Virginia under §19-23 of the state code. Under state law, licensed racetracks may accept wagers in-person and through approved betting apps such as TVG, BetAmerica and TwinSpires among others.

State law has authorized two horse racing tracks (Hollywood Casino Racetrack and Mountaineer Park) and two greyhound tracks (Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island). Additionally, the Casino Club at The Greenbrier holds the state’s only off-track betting license as mandated in §19-23-12d of the state code.

The West Virginia Racing Commission was established in 1931 and oversees all horse racing, greyhound racing and parimutuel wagering throughout the state. The Racing Commission and legislature both support the racing industries through a variety of measures such as diverting a percentage of casino revenue to both industries.

WV Lottery Law

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A majority of voters approved a state lottery on the 1984 ballot and the West Virginia legislature passed the Lottery Act the following year. This established the WV Lottery Commission and laid out the basic rules governing the lottery.

According to state law, the lottery is required to pay back at least 45% of money taken in as prizes on average each year. This means for every $1.00 spent on lottery tickets, at least $0.45 must be paid out as prizes. State law also mandates that no more than 15% of lottery sales go to administration costs. Since launching in 1986, payouts to players have averaged 50% and administration costs have averaged 12%.

The Lottery Commission’s powers have been expanded over time to regulate other forms of gambling. In addition to managing the lottery itself, the Commission regulates sports betting, video lottery slots and online gambling.

Bingo and Raffle Law

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Qualifying charitable organizations may apply for licenses to hold bingo games and raffles on an annual or singular basis. These organizations must have been in existence for at least two years before applying for a license and may only award up to $10,000 in prizes during any one event except in the case of a license super bingo event.

There are five major types of bingo licenses an organization may request:

  • Annual bingo license: License is good for one year and allows the organization to host up to two bingo games per week; cost is $500 if the organization grosses more than $20,000 and $200 otherwise
  • Annual Senior license: Same as an annual license but comes with a discounted fee of $50
  • Limited occasion license: This license is good only for the duration specified and the organization may host a bingo event once every 24 hours for a time period not to exceed two weeks; cost is $100
  • Super bingo license: A super bingo license allows the licensee to host up to one super bingo event every month and award up to $50,000 in prize money at each event; cost is $5,000
  • State fair license: The state fair board may apply for a bingo license each year to host bingo games at the state fair; cost is $500

Charitable raffle events are regulated in much the same manner with limited, annual and state fair licenses. Bingo and raffle licenses must both be applied for at least sixty days in advance of the event.

Whether or not online bingo will ever be authorized depends on the WV Lottery Commission. The 2019 online gambling law gives the Lottery Commission the authority to authorize a wide range of games and nothing in the law specifically prohibits bingo. No decision has been made on that point yet, so for now bingo in West Virginia is strictly the realm of charitable organizations and the state fair.

Skill Games Law

West Virginia law does not consider games of skill to be gambling and makes no attempt to regulate them. The clearest example of this can be found in the 2016 Attorney General opinion that stated fantasy sports sites do not meet the state’s definition of “gambling” despite having a small element of chance.

In West Virginia, a game must be predominantly determined by chance to be considered gambling. This is not the case in many other states. This is from the Attorney General (page 5):

“For a number of different reasons, we conclude that these statues are best interpreted to refer only to games decided wholly or predominantly on chance.

  1. We look first to multiple opinions of the Supreme Court of Appeals, as well as opinions issued by previous West Virginia attorneys general, which suggest that these statutes prohibit only betting on games decided wholly or predominantly on chance.”

It should be noted, however, that attorney general opinions are not law. It is possible an attorney general in the future decides games decided even partially by chance meet the state’s definition of gambling. For now, that is not the case. Games of skill do not fall under the purview of WV gambling law.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gambling in West Virginia

What is the gambling age in West Virginia?

The minimum age to participate varies by the type of gambling as follows:

  • In-person and online casinos: 21+
  • In-person and mobile sports betting: 21+
  • In-person and online poker: 21+
  • Fantasy sports: 18+
  • Horse racing betting: 18+
  • Lottery: 18+
  • VLTs: 21+
  • Skill games: 18+
  • Charitable bingo and raffles: 18+

Does WV allow lottery winners to claim prizes anonymously?

Yes, but there’s a catch. HB 2982 passed in 2018 allows winners of $1,000,000 or higher prizes to claim their winnings anonymously, but only if they agree to give up 5% of their winnings to the State Lottery Fund. Players who win less than $1 million or who do not want to forfeit 5% may not remain anonymous.

Problem Gambling Resources in West Virginia

In addition to the usual national resources such as Gamblers Anonymous, West Virginia has its own state-level resources. Whether you think you have a problem or simply have a question about gambling addiction, these resources are great places to begin the search for answers.