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West Virginia now has its second online casino, as BetMGM launched its casino app in partnership with The Greenbrier. Meanwhile, two new online sportsbooks should be launching in the state very shortly.
As with DraftKings Casino before it, BetMGM launched with little forewarning. Its parent company, Roar Digital, received permission to begin its live testing phase on Wednesday, and the company was ready to launch its product the same evening. Its mobile sportsbook has been available in the state since late January this year.
The new WV casino launched with a fairly sparse set of offerings, albeit still the best in the state for the time being. Just 30 games are available at the moment, most of them slots. These include the first linked-jackpot slots in the state. When DraftKings launched its casino, it focused on table games first, and only introduced its own slots more recently. BetMGM also offers video poker, another product currently lacking at DraftKings.
“The addition of the leading iGaming offering in West Virginia is a powerful differentiator for BetMGM,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt. “With the largest slate of casino games in the state, we’re confident that our superior offering will quickly become the online gaming destination of choice for players.”
BetMGM Casino can be accessed in browser for desktop computers as well as in mobile app form. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices, which is no longer a given these days. Apple’s new App Store guidelines make life difficult for gambling companies, so it’s often been the case that new online casinos launch on other platforms first, with the iOS app following a few weeks later.
Roar Digital and BetMGM are a collaboration between casino operator MGM Resorts International and European online gambling giant GVC. Industry analysts have high hopes for the company, and investment firm IAC recently made a big bet on it. However, it has been a bit slower in expanding than some of its competitors.
West Virginia is only the second market in which it has launched its casino, after New Jersey. Its mobile sportsbook is available in Nevada and Indiana as well. It will launch soon in Pennsylvania, but has been slow to enter that market because it has to do so as an out-of-state qualified gaming entity. Meanwhile, Michigan is still in the regulatory rule-making and licensing phase, but BetMGM should be among the first sites to launch once the state is ready.
It has the potential to be a dominant force, however, because MGM holds such widespread and prestigious brand recognition. Its New Jersey license, held through the Borgata Casino, is the second highest-grossing in the state, after Golden Nugget’s. The latter has a greater number of skins, however, and Eilers & Krejcik estimate that BetMGM is the market leader as an individual brand.
It’s going to be a busy few weeks in the state, as two more WV sportsbooks are entering the market.
Delaware North was actually the first company in the game, but only briefly. Its original app, BetLucky, turned into a legal fiasco within months of launch and ended up shutting down permanently. Now, it is finally ready to get back into the game with a new partner, Betly, which is powered by IGT.
Delaware North owns two of the state’s five casinos, Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras. It expects to open the latter’s retail sportsbook today, with Wheeling Island to follow next week. The app launch is also imminent.
William Hill will reportedly be next. Its retail sportsbook at Mountaineer Casino was the third in the state to open, in November 2018. The mobile version has therefore been a long time in coming. However, the West Virginia Lottery Commission has said that it will enter testing next week.
Who will be the next casino to launch is a harder question to answer. This probably isn’t a priority for either William Hill or Betly, but surely is for PokerStars and FanDuel. Like DraftKings and BetMGM, they are probably ready to go whenever they get the green light. It is therefore a matter of regulatory permission, but probably shouldn’t take more than another month or two at most now that the ball is rolling.