West Virginia residents and visitors were quick to wager at state sportsbooks since operations officially began in August, and the Mountain State has noticed a significant rise in tax revenue as a result. According to the West Virginia Lottery Commission, more than $60.2 million has been placed since Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races became the first sportsbook to accept bets on August 30. Taxing the gross revenue of this handle at 10% had yielded $764,304 for the state government.
Alex Donohue of US-Bookies.com relates the betting trends to nearby states with legalized gambling, expecting 2019 to see higher monthly figures.
“Despite a smaller population than other states with legalized sports wagering, West Virginia is noticing immediate benefits. There was a significant rise in betting handle after September–the first full month that sports gambling was available–when more sportsbooks opened. With two more outlets and mobile betting arriving in late December, we expect the increasing handle to continue, as it is similar to the spike in New Jersey resulting from online wagers. Figures in 2019 will drastically increase as West Virginia residents and visitors have more access to regulated sports wagering, and resources like Bet-WV.com.”
Figure 1 shows the consistent increase in money wagered per week in 2018. Along with emphasizing the popularity of legalized sports betting in West Virginia, data shows that more outlets lead to greater amounts being wagered, yielding more state revenue. There was a steady increase from approximately $7.4 million in September to about $15.5 million in December.
Continuing the Trend
In late August, the Hollywood Casino became the Mountain State’s first legal sportsbook. The Greenbrier soon followed, giving West Virginia residents access to two sports books by mid-September, and weekly handle noticed a sharp uptick. Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort opened its sportsbook right before Thanksgiving, adding to what became one of the busiest weeks of sports gambling for West Virginia. In December, two more sportsbooks, Mardis Gras Casino and Wheeling Island, began operations. Both also brought mobile betting via BetLucky.com, helping weekly betting numbers reach their highest level in 2018. With more online outlets soon to come, the tax revenue from legalized sports betting is sure to continue through 2019.
Other states experienced similar trends upon regulating sports betting. New Jersey noticed exceptionally high handles and revenues during the first six months of operation. As more sports books opened, more money was wagered and greater tax revenue produced. When online betting became available in August, the monthly handle rose to $95 million, more than doubling the combined total from June and July.
The totals were not as favorable for Pennsylvania due to fewer outlets and lack of mobile options. However, when two new sportsbooks became available in December, the Keystone State saw a rise in monthly betting handle by nearly $15 million.
“What West Virginia has over Pennsylvania is the convenience factor of online betting,” says Donohue. “New Jersey had operational online sports gambling by Thanksgiving, which is one of the biggest American sports days of the year. This led in part to $330 million being wagered in November. Though West Virginia missed this opportunity and certain operations had been delayed, March Madness is on the horizon, which will appeal to sports fans looking to make last-minute bets. If the next outlets make it in time, the West Virginia government will wave more revenue for state projects.”
The Benefits of Sports Gambling
The prime benefit of legalized sports betting is the tax revenue. West Virginia taxes 10% of the gross revenue, which is much lower than Pennsylvania’s 35% rate. Despite the much smaller population, West Virginia’s minimal tax rate is favorable to sports books and casinos looking to create legalized sports betting operations, and the demand for it has been proven among residents, as their gambling led to $700,000 in tax revenue. This money would not have existed if West Virginia were to not regulate sports wagering, as interested bettors could have taken their money overseas or to nearby states. Additionally, casinos and sportsbooks will have to pay an annual $100,000 fee, leading to more revenue for the state.
The relatively low tax rate and fees have led to multiple sports gambling operations. As these casinos and sportsbooks look to benefit from the new legislation, they will need the staff to support the rising demand for sports betting. This creates more jobs for West Virginians, further boosting the state economy.
Better Collective created Bet-WV as an expansion of its network of state-specific betting websites through its US-Bookies hub to cater to the growing demand for sports gambling in West Virginia. Following Bet-NJ and Bet-PA, it creates easy access to state-approved sportsbooks via strategic partnerships with the best casinos, providing gamblers with exclusive benefits when using the platform.
US-Bookies’ network of websites aggregates state-specific data on sports betting, horse racing, online betting, politics, and gambling legislation. Step-by-step guides for placing bets and wagering responsibly help provide a better gambling experience for users. More websites are to come as more states legalize sports gambling.