West Virginia’s nascent sports betting industry could be facing new competition, with the Washington, D.C., City Council voting Tuesday to legalize sports betting in the nation’s capital.
On Wednesday, state Lottery Commission Director John Myers said Lottery officials had anticipated that Washington would be one of the first locations near West Virginia to legalize sports betting.
“We did anticipate they would be a player early in the process,” he said. “We knew D.C. would be coming on. We expect Maryland will be coming online, and Pennsylvania is into the process.”
Assuming Congress does not block enactment of the legislation, Washington could present serious competition to West Virginia’s largest and busiest casino, Hollywood Casino in Charles Town.
Myers deflected questions about the potential impact, noting that there are so many unknowns about sports betting revenue that the Lottery Commission did not include it when making overall Lottery revenue projections for the year.
He said much of the Lottery’s work has been conjecture, based on figures from Nevada, where sports betting has been legal for years, and New Jersey, which was one of the first jurisdictions to go live with sports betting following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May striking down a federal law banning sports betting in most states and jurisdictions.
According to The Associated Press, the Washington legislation would permit sports betting in sportsbooks within city stadiums and arenas, and in licensed private businesses, including bars, restaurants and liquor stores. It also authorizes use of a sports betting app that would allow subscribers to place bets within the city limits.
In November, sports bettors in West Virginia placed a total of $13.3 million in wagers, and cashed in $11.96 million in winning bets, leaving a net profit of $1.33 million. West Virginia’s 10 percent sports betting privilege tax brought in $133,351 for the state, up notably from $63,020 in October.
Hollywood Casino accounted for the vast majority of sports betting revenue in November, with $11.87 million in wagers, $10.79 million in winnings and net revenue of $1.076 million.
Mountaineer Casino, near Chester, launched sports betting on Nov. 20 and, during the first 11 days, saw $633,801 in wagers, $408,448 in winnings and net revenue of $225,353.
The casino at The Greenbrier resort had $798,098 in sports wagers, with $765,811 paid out in winnings for a net profit of $32,286. That was an improvement over October, when the casino paid out $35,512 more in winnings than it took in from wagers.
Myers, meanwhile, said the Lottery is still awaiting word on when Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island casinos plan to launch sports betting.
“Day to day is all I can tell you,” he said. “We know they’re making an effort. It’s still on the corporate side as to when they’re going to open.”
Officials with Delaware North, the parent company of the two casinos, have said they want to launch in-house sports betting and the casinos’ sports betting smartphone apps simultaneously.
The three other casinos have opened in-house sportbooks, but have yet to launch betting apps, although DraftKings Inc. announced Tuesday that the company has signed a licensing agreement with Penn National to provide Hollywood Casino’s sports betting app.
“We’ve been contacted by DraftKings,” Myers said Wednesday, adding that the company has yet to submit the mobile app technology to the Lottery for testing.
“It’s so early on in the process with them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lottery Commission reported another strong revenue month in November, with $89.26 million in gross revenue — up 7 percent from $83.77 million in November 2017.
Traditional online and scratch-off games, Limited Video Lottery in bars and clubs around the state, and casino table games outperformed November 2017 numbers, while video lottery revenue at the four racetrack casinos was down only slightly from last November.
The state’s share of November Lottery profits, $41.19 million, was up $3.78 million from November 2017.
For the first five months of the 2018-19 budget year, gross Lottery profits of $470.85 million are up $25 million, or 5 percent, from the same point last year, and are running $61.5 million ahead of estimates.
The state’s share of Lottery profits year-to-date of $211.73 million is $10.5 million above the same point last year, and is $25.5 million ahead of estimates.
Lottery Commission Chairman Ken Greear said the revenue numbers are impressive, given the challenges facing the Lottery, and he applauded Lottery staff for a job well done.