Legal sports betting in West Virginia went live for the first time on Thursday last week, with the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races taking the debut $50 wager from delegate Jason Barrett on the West Virginia University/Tennessee Mountaineers game.
The Thursday event was a soft opening in advance of the main launch over the weekend when, according to US media sources citing official lottery figures, the Penn National Gaming venue saw a total of circa $340,000 wagered on the first Saturday of the college football season.
With the Hollywood Casino sportsbook now fully up and running, the action in West Virginia is about to hot up. The state’s four remaining casinos are scheduled to offer sports betting in the next two months and online and mobile wagering are expected to follow close behind.
Looking ahead, legislators have projected for state revenue of $5.5m annually from sports betting. However, the state lottery sees that figure as conservative and its own study suggests that returns could go as high as $9m to $17m per year.
As sports betting made its grand entry this weekend, the announcement came almost simultaneously that Alan Larrick had resigned from his role as director of the West Virginia Lottery. Larrick had held the post since January 2017, during which time the lottery saw a 12 per cent increase in instant sales and a $12m growth in total sales. Taking his place in an acting capacity is Doug Buffington, currently deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Revenue.