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BetMGM Sports Arrives In West Virginia Just In Time For Super Bowl LIV

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Without much fanfare, the number of active online sportsbooks in West Virginia has increased to three.

The BetMGM sports betting app launched last week in partnership with The Greenbrier, the state’s privately owned resort and casino. The move comes just in time for Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, typically the biggest single day of the year for US sportsbooks.

MGM joins the WV online sports betting market alongside DraftKings and FanDuel, which launched their apps just days apart last August.

FanDuel is also partnered with The Greenbrier, while DraftKings’ land-based partner is Hollywood Casino. Hollywood is owned by Penn National, with which DraftKings has a national market access partnership.

WV a tough market for BetMGM

Compared to DraftKings and FanDuel, MGM is a relatively small player in the US sports betting world outside of Nevada.

BetMGM is a joint venture between MGM Resorts and GVC, which partnered to form Roar Digital. The duo subsequently struck a deal with Yahoo Sports to integrate its product into the Yahoo app. It’s a brand with a lot of potential energy, but it hasn’t yet made the most of the new opportunities.

Prior to the West Virginia launch, BetMGM was only active in New Jersey. It hoped to hold a 10% to 15% market share there by this March, but as of December held only 7.7% with under $1 million in online revenue that month.

In WV, which is a smaller market to begin with, BetMGM will face stiff competition from the already-established brands of FanDuel and DraftKings.

Precursor to MGM online casino/poker

What some West Virginians may find more interesting than BetMGM Sportsbook, however, is the possibility that its other verticals will follow.

Lawmakers in 2019 authorized online casino games and poker in West Virginia, but the launch hasn’t yet happened. Estimates for when to expect one originally ranged from late 2019 to early 2021, but the timeline is now a little clearer.

The state lottery, which regulates gambling, officially began work on emergency regulations in December. It is obligated to enact them by July 1, which should mean that the first sites will be able to launch in the second half of 2020. Permanent rules will then follow in 2021.

DraftKings and FanDuel both have online casinos — DraftKings Casino and the brand-new FanDuel Casino, respectively. However, their focus has always been on their daily fantasy sports and sports betting products.

Conversely, casino gaming is a major vertical for GVC. It owns partypoker, too, so BetMGM is the first WV product with the potential to include poker. It remains to be seen whether it chooses to do so when the time comes.

Partypoker hasn’t yet launched in either Pennsylvania or Nevada, and both of those would presumably be higher priorities than WV. With a population of only 1.8 million, it’s not even clear that WV online poker could subsist on its own without interstate liquidity compacts in place.

WV sports betting still sparse

Five casinos in West Virginia are eligible to form sports betting and online casino partnerships. Each is allowed up to three partners for sports, so The Greenbrier has room for one more. And yet, three casinos in the state still have no mobile sports betting at all.

Mountaineer has a retail sportsbook set up in partnership with William Hill. That could eventually be extended to mobile betting, though there’s no official plan to do so.

Meanwhile, Delaware North, which owns Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras, was actually first to market with a mobile sports betting app. BetLucky was an ill-fated venture, though, as a complicated falling-out between the three parties involved resulted in BetLucky going offline for good in March 2019.

Delaware North only this week announced a replacement deal with IGT and Betgenius.

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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