It looks as if smartphone sports betting will return to West Virginia just in time for the start of the NFL season, according to state Lottery officials.
State Lottery Director John Myers said, “We think we’re there,” when talking about getting mobile phone apps from William Hill Sports, FanDuel and DraftKings up and running before a foot sends the first pigskin branded with the NFL logo aloft to a return team a little after 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5.
It’s good news for state revenue. While these latest apps were clearing legal and licensing hurdles, online betting in the Mountain State had been shelved by the only two casinos to offer an app, Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras, both owned and operated by Delaware North. The casinos put their apps on ice in early March. Ongoing legal disputes between the betting platform provider, Delaware North and a third party caused West Virginia to miss out on revenue from wagering via smartphone during the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament and other high-profile events that could have been rather lucrative.
The state seems to have gotten its timing down perfectly here.
Speaking of timing, it’s also a good time to remind those who would wager on sports to do so cautiously. Like just about everything else, there’s nothing wrong with participating in legal wagering in moderation. But once out of control, sports gambling addiction can ruin lives and families, see homes taken away or cars repossessed.
Fortunately, the West Virginia Lottery created the Compulsive Gamblers Treatment Fund, which takes a portion of lottery proceeds and directs it toward gaming addiction treatment in connection with the Problem Gamblers Help Network.
Revenue from the lottery, table games, racetrack betting and, now, sports gambling funds a lot of worthy causes — education, state parks and senior services, to name a few. But it also presents an obligation to try and help look after those who might make very bad decisions because of addiction.
No doubt, the responsibility lies with the gambler, but in providing an outlet for that behavior — and even though most will play responsibly — the state has a duty to try and help. So far, state government has done an admirable job in that department.