Online gamblers in WV flock to DraftKings Casino at launch

DraftKings Casino Sets West Virginia Online Gambling Off On The Right Foot

Legal online gambling is off to a fast start in the country’s newest regulated market.

West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers told WV MetroNews this week that gamblers wagered nearly $8 million through the first six days of interactive gaming.

DraftKings christened the WV online casino market on July 15 and operates what is still the only legal iGaming platform in the state.

WV online gambling fast off the blocks

The lotto has yet to approve any online slots, but DraftKings Casino is making the most of a limited menu.

According to Myers, DK’s virtual tables saw $7,979,923 in bets from launch through July 20. That yielded $160,379 in taxable revenue — a low hold that’s almost certainly a result of aggressive bonusing.

It’s hard to put those early numbers into any meaningful context, but Pennsylvania does provide a basis for comparison. Its interactive market opened exactly a year before West Virginia’s, and the first PA online casinos took around $25 million in combined bets at their tables from July 15-31.

Here’s how the two states stack up in per-day table wagering at launch:

  • Pennsylvania (July 15-31, 2019): $1,499,070
  • West Virginia (July 15-20, 2020): $1,329,987

The comparison is by no means apples to apples. PA online gambling sites offered both slots and table games at launch, and sportsbooks were also operating at midsummer levels unaffected by COVID-19.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania has more than seven times as many residents as West Virginia. Its numbers also came from the combined efforts of three operators, while DraftKings Casino is doing all of the lifting by itself in WV.

With its 15% tax on revenue, the state has so far earned around $25,000 from online gambling.

More competition coming in WV?

The questions now are how long DraftKings Casino will have the market to itself and how much hay it can make in the meantime.

As to the first, competition is certainly coming at some point. Both Flutter and MGM have access to the market under the license of The Greenbrier, which could bring in brands like FanDuel Casino and BetMGM Casino — both of which already offer online sports betting in WV.

There’s also the outstanding matter of poker, a topic that no operator has yet been willing to publicly broach.

Inquiries by OPR to PokerStars and partypoker have gone unreturned, casting doubt on the notion that a legal real-money site will appear in the near future. The lack of a clear path to multistate poker doesn’t exactly create a strong and immediate temptation.

Still, it seems likely that someone in WV will offer online poker at some point. While a small and ring-fenced market is mostly unappealing on its own, a multivertical operator like Flutter should be able to extract value from poker as an acquisition tool if nothing else.

Or perhaps DraftKings will be the first to offer poker in WV too?

- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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