When someone mentions West Virginia, most people immediately think of picturesque mountain peaks and a rich history of coal mining. Online casinos are hardly the first association that comes to mind. However, that hasn’t stopped the Mountain State from emerging as an unlikely up-and-coming blip on the American iGaming radar.
As there are only 1.79 million people living in WV, according to the 2019 census, hardly anyone expects this state to put up a fight against the likes of Nevada and New Jersey. Nevertheless, coordinated efforts and relatively efficient rollouts have resulted in a fast-growing market.
With that in mind, we want to give you the best guide to West Virginia online casinos. Too many times have seen incomplete information or a lack of basic pointers. That’s simply not our style.
In the following sections, you’ll learn about everything from laws and regulations, all the way to the casinos themselves. We’ll cover everything in detail, just so your online gambling sessions can be completely hassle-free. Sounds good? If so, sit back, relax, and soak it all in.
The History of Gambling in West Virginia
Sandwiched between the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, West Virginia has always had at least somewhat of an affinity towards gambling. Back in the 1930s, they were one of the first states to legalize horse racing and greyhound racing. Pari-mutuel racing was also big in this era. This liberal outlook towards gambling directly resulted in West Virginia becoming a hotspot in the region.
With Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all lacking legal gambling infrastructures, citizens of these states flocked to WV. Such a shrewd decision helped the mountain state boost its economy and racetracks became important places in various communities.
Perhaps the first important event in West Virginia’s road towards legal online casinos was the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs) in 1987. At first, they were only allowed at the Mountaineer Park racetrack in New Cumberland. In 1994, the West Virginia Racetrack Video Lottery Act was passed. It allowed other racetracks to open their own VLT sections. Wheeling and Mardi Gras joined the party, as WV received more than 1,200 new VLTs in just that year alone.
1997 saw Charles Town Races go a step further and open a whole separate VLT facility, called Hollywood Races and Slots. Around the same time, VLTs had some fierce competition in the form of video poker machines. Albeit not technically legal, these terminals popped all over West Virginia, mostly in bars and entertainment venues. As it’s always the case when it comes to technological innovations, lawmakers seemingly ignored the trend.
In 2001, the Limited Video Lottery Act was passed, which finally saw the beginning of regulated video poker in WV. It was a strange law, as it didn’t seek to penalize ‘grey area’ video poker machines. Instead, establishments were only required to get rid of existing machines and were given the option of applying for a license. The act also put a hard cap on the total number of these terminals in WV, amounting to 9,000. These new machines were subject to a 48% tax rate, which was increased to 52% in 2007.
Brick and Mortar Casinos Joining the Fold
2007 was a big step towards legal West Virginia online casinos. It is at this time that the Mountaineer and the Wheeling Island decided to install table games and poker tables. Compared to other states, this was an unusual development. In most cases, a state legalized land-based casinos suddenly.
When it comes to West Virginia, there weren’t any new structures built, or any new licenses handed out. Instead, racetracks with a lot of history behind them used their leverage to slowly transition to full-fledged casino floors. Thus, in 2007, we could see an influx of blackjack, poker, craps, baccarat, and other popular table games.
In 2008, Mardi Gras and the Greenbrier Resort joined the party, with new additions in the form of VLTs and table games enriching the offer of these two facilities. 2010 saw Hollywood Races and Slots become Hollywood Casino, and the Greenbrier becoming a full-fledged casino.
Finally, West Virginians and tourists alike had several options when it came to casino games. This was the climax of the long road to legal casino gambling in the Mountain State. Still, due to several federal laws, such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), West Virginia online casinos were still far from becoming reality. However, things would start to change rapidly in a little less than a decade.
The Sportsbook Interlude
Now that you know the full history of land-based gambling in West Virginia, it makes sense to ask — how did that result in online casinos? When the Greenbrier and Hollywood Casino added fully-equipped casino floors to their offer, playing games over the internet was still impossible in the US. Of course, many players resorted to loosely regulated offshore sites because the UIGEA effectively trounced any and all possibilities for a proper, legal framework.
Believe it or not, West Virginia online casinos didn’t come to be as a result of the existing venues’ lobbying efforts or a suddenly passed law. Instead, the catalyst was an unlikely one — sports betting. Yup, that’s right. In 2008, the US Supreme Court presided over Murphy v. NCAA and decided that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was in direct conflict with the Tenth Amendment.
This landmark decision opened the floodgates for states who wanted to legalize sports betting. It just so happens that West Virginia saw this as another opportunity to boosts its economy. They were just the third state to legalize betting on sports events in April 2018, with the passing of SB 415.
Just like with previous gambling developments, legislators didn’t want to cause an influx of new licensees. The only eligible parties were existing casinos/racetracks, amounting to a total of five. However, there is also a small caveat. While the casinos themselves apply for licenses, they are free to collaborate with existing brands and sites in order to develop their website. Therefore, FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, and BetMGM are the only currently available options. They’re collaboratory efforts, really.
Everyone was surprised at the efficiency of West Virginia’s sportsbook rollout, and the state also saw copious amounts of revenue during the first few months. Encouraged by the success of the whole process, legislators were eager to cash in on any new opportunities, which lead to another landmark law…
How Online Casinos Became Legal in West Virginia
Following the sportsbook success story, the Mountain State finally got its crack at online casinos. HB 2934, also known as the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act was the first-ever law to specifically outline the legal boundaries of online gambling. The main people behind the bill were State Delegates Shawn Fluharty and Jason Barrett.
Fluharty has always been a proponent of legal gambling in the state of West Virginia and has been adamant in suggesting legislation on the topic ever since 2017. While most of his efforts were thwarted due to lack of support, the partnership with D. Barrett changed everything. Shortly after, nine other cosponsors voiced their support. Ultimately, HB 2934 gained bipartisan support, as everyone realized how much West Virginia could gain just by legalizing online casinos.
The bill passed the House floor with a 72-22 vote, followed by another landslide on the Senate floor, attracting 26 yeas and 7 nays. It was then returned to the House for a few amendments to be added, passing with a final 78-18 vote. After the governor failed to act, HB 2934 officially became law on March 24, 2019.
What Games Are Legal at West Virginia Online Casinos?
After the passing of the act, it was immediately revealed that all table games and slots would become legal. Blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, sic bo, and many other favorites can be played at West Virginia online casinos.
What’s unusual is that online poker was also included in the bill. Even though West Virginians could already play at brick-and-mortar casinos, poker was mainly an afterthought. Sadly, there still aren’t any dedicated poker sites in West Virginia. Nevertheless, there are realistic chances that things will change in the near future.
Who Can Start an Online Casino in West Virginia?
According to the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, the only eligible licensees are the state’s five land-based casino venues. This includes the following facilities:
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort (owned by Eldorado Resorts)
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races (operated by Penn National Gaming)
- Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack (owned by Delaware North)
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort (owned by Delaware North)
- The Casino Club at the Greenbrier
Each of these five casinos has the right to run three skins, which is basically another word for ‘casino site.’ This amounts to a potential maximum of 15 West Virginia online casinos. However, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see such a high number. WV is, after all, a small state and they’ve just started taking baby steps in the iGaming world.
An important detail is that these land-based casinos can freely partner with existing operators. This might seem like an insignificant facet of HB 2934, but it’s an important stability factor. Without it, casinos would be left to fend for themselves and make rookie mistakes in a market they’re not familiar with.
License West Virginia Lottery Commission
Each casino has to pay $250,000 for a license from the West Virginia Lottery Commission, followed by a $100,000 renewal fee after five years. Now, the most interesting part, and the key to West Virginia’s potential is the 15% tax rate. This is significantly lower than many other states, including Pennsylvania, which forces licensees to pay upwards of 30%.
In case the iGaming industry grows exponentially in the next few years, this low tax rate just might be the key to future expansions. There are already rumors that legislators might consider allowing new operators to obtain a license. If this comes to fruition, online casinos will definitely start popping up in WV. It’s simply a sound financial decision for any company, as heavy taxation is often offputting for casinos.
Still, this is a big if. Remember, West Virginia as a whole has as many residents as the city of Phoenix. This is a hindrance to any future developments, but the Mountain State has surprised us in the past. We don’t see why it can’t do so again!
Who Can Play at West Virginia Online Casinos?
The minimum gambling age for online casinos in West Virginia is 21. Sites are required to ask you for personal information, such as your SSN and DOB, so underage gambling is virtually impossible. Identity verification is a standard in most states, so it’s great to see West Virginia follow suit.
Also, anyone can play at WV online casinos, not just residents. Regardless if you’re a foreigner or if you live out of state, legal sites will gladly accept your money and allow you to play all the available games.
What Are the Best West Virginia Online Casinos?
It’s not that hard to answer this question, as there are only two West Virginia online casinos active*. As of April 2021, only BetMGM (through the Greenbrier) and DraftKings (Hollywood Casino) have been established.
Both operators are well-established in the US iGaming scene, so you can expect quality gameplay at all times. It’s unknown whether the other three venues will join the fold soon. Nevertheless, it’s still a real possibility, as all five land-based casinos run online sportsbooks and don’t want to lose out on their share of the growing WV casino market.
Let’s take a quick look at both DraftKings and BetMGM, just so you know what to expect once you take the plunge.
The very first online casino in WV, DraftKings came out swinging. Immediately upon arrival, they launched a plethora of attractive bonuses. Ever since then, they’ve expanded their roster of promotions, which now includes many limited-time offers.
One thing we love about this particular site is the excellent choice of payment options. You can use VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, ACH, Play+ Prepaid Card, and wire transfers for deposits. As you probably know, PayPal is the world’s biggest and most secure eWallet, so funding your account is a breeze. The minimum deposit is also surprisingly low, coming in at a cool $10.
We also like the slots offered. Some of our favorites are Triple Diamond, Crown Egypt, Blood Suckers, and King of Atlantis. While we strongly advise you to start with these four, you can’t go wrong with others, as well. It’s also worth mentioning that DraftKings constantly adds new games, so the roster never gets stale.
Different versions of Blackjack
Blackjack, roulette, and video poker are also heavily represented. There are six different versions of blackjack, making it a staple of this casino. Baseball blackjack is our favorite. If you love America’s favorite sport, then you’ll love it even more in conjunction with America’s favorite card game.
Oh, and don’t worry, you won’t be forced to play American Roulette all the time. Lightning Roulette and European Roulette will give you a better return-to-player (RTP), along with some exciting gameplay.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with DraftKings. They are one of the best and most respected operators in the entire country. With their venture into the market of West Virginia online casinos, they’ve only solidified that opinion.
When BetMGM Casino arrived in West Virginia in August of 2020, everyone had high hopes. After all, this is another legendary operator, so we knew what to expect. Even with all the hype surrounding this casino, BetMGM managed to blow our expectations out of the water. It all started with an awesome two-tiered deposit bonus, which can give you up to $1,000 in free money.
No Deposit bonus
There’s also a $25 no deposit bonus. You can activate it just. It’s a great thing to have if you haven’t played at BetMGM before. Without risking a single cent, you can just grab this promotion and see how magnificent this online casino really is.
If you’re a fan of mobile play, you can’t go wrong with BetMGM. There are apps for both Android and iOS. Just one thing — make sure you download the BetMGM casino app, not the sportsbook. It’s a bit inconvenient that they have the same name, but you’ll get it right just by paying a little bit of attention.
While there are fewer slots compared to DraftKings, BetMGM is constantly adding new stuff. Thus, it’s highly likely that they will be amongst the best West Virginia online casinos for years to come.
And perhaps the best part of this site is the VIP program. You can climb the ranks and receive lucrative bonuses, rewards, and an attractive cashback rate. DraftKings still doesn’t have this, so BetMGM is definitely the better option if you intend to play a lot or if you’re a high roller.
To conclude, BetMGM is not outright better than its only competitor, but their vast experience certainly shows. If you don’t mind a slightly smaller number of games, you’ll love the environment at BetMGM. The community is welcoming and all the bonuses provide excellent value.
*There are only two West Virginia online casinos at the moment. As soon as Mardi Gras, the Mountaineer, or the Wheeling Island launch their own sites, we’ll update this article and add reviews of their respective software, offers, and more. Stay tuned!
What Are the Best Things About West Virginia Online Casinos?
Congratulations, now you’re well acquainted with the Mountain State’s dynamic duo — DraftKings and BetMGM. While they are both fine options, the goal of this article is to primarily look at the iGaming market in West Virginia as a whole. We consider it one of the most gambling-conscious states in the country, and our goal is to highlight some of the best aspects of legal casino sites there.
Therefore, we analyzed the sites just to see what makes West Virginia online casinos so special. After the analysis, we picked the most important factors. In our honest opinion, it is these three aspects that make up the pillars of the greatness of this state’s iGaming market.
Live Dealer Games
At West Virginia online casinos, you won’t be forced to compete against a computer all day. Even though it’s always great to play without pressure and hone your skills in solitude, live dealer games are the real deal.
What are they? Well, imagine that you’re sitting at the Mardi Gras, sipping a drink, and playing, let’s say blackjack. That’s a great image, right? Of course, but there’s just one flaw. It’s almost a guarantee that you have to sit in your car and drive to play your favorite games. As great as the atmosphere is, the whole thing can be a hassle.
Well, at West Virginia online casinos, you can get the same feel and the same vibe, all from the comfort of your own home. These special games are actually live-streamed from a studio, where an actual dealer is dealing the cards, spinning the wheel, or throwing the dice.
On the same screen, you can control your bets through a simple interface with just the tap of your finger or a click of your mouse. But the best part of live dealer games at West Virginia online casinos is the fact that you can chat with the dealer and other players. Forget the winnings, the real deal are those funny anecdotes told by the dealers!
Since West Virginia online casinos are a relative novelty, sites are looking to attract players in any way possible. Perhaps the best tool to accomplish this are bonuses. By rewarding the player with free spins or cash to play games with, sites gain loyal customers that will stay with them in the future.
In return, players get much more than they paid for, which is the best possible type of value you can get. The most common bonuses are deposit bonuses. They are triggered by adding money to your account. Once your deposit goes through, you are given a match in the form of a percentage. If you make a $100 deposit and the bonus gives you a 100% match, you basically have $200 to play with. And you only paid $100!
However, there are certain rules and conditions that go with these promotions. For the casino to make a buck, they impose wagering requirements. To be able to withdraw the money you won using the bonus, you have to wager it a certain number of times. If you received $100 through a bonus, and the wagering requirements are 30x, you have to bet a total of $3,000 to be able to use the money. It sounds rough, but it’s actually very easy to do over the course of a few days.
Security & Fairness
We know that these are actually two aspects, but they are often inseparable when it comes to West Virginia online casinos. Even though playing casino games is fun, you’re still giving your personal information and card details to an unknown entity. It’s of the utmost importance that you feel safe and content when doing so.
That’s why sites have to have security certificates and encryption protocols. The very best West Virginia online casinos also have anti-money laundering practices, which are key in keeping the gambling industry fair and legal.
And speaking about fairness, there’s no point in playing a game if it’s rigged in the casino’s favor? Therefore, a casino is fair if it sources games from verified suppliers and regularly publishes audits and game RTPs. If a third party verifies the fairness of the games, you have nothing to fear. Along with that, a license from the West Virginia Lottery Commission is important. That’s what makes the site legal, after all.
West Virginia online casinos are still in their infancy. With iGaming only becoming legal in 2019, the Mountain State still has a plethora of ways it can improve. The goal of this guide was to educate you about the laws and regulations, prepare you, and ultimately help you in your goal of having the best possible casino experience. Top10usacasino.com is made for players, but players. Good luck and have fun!
Online casinos in West Virginia became legal in 2019, with the passing of HB 2934 AKA the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act.
Currently, only DraftKings and BetMGM are active, but there can be a maximum of 15 total sites in the state.
You have to be 21 or older to play at WV casinos.
All casinos in the state must have a license from the West Virginia Lottery Commission.
Yes, you can play live blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, and much more.