West Virginia Sees Expected Sports Betting Plunge in March

West Virginia Sees Expected Sports Betting Plunge in March
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West Virginia sports betting revenue was down in March — as in most states under orders to close casinos because of the coronavirus pandemic — but mobile numbers were still strong, according to figures released by the state Wednesday.

The total West Virginia sports betting handle was $14.7 million for the four-week period from March 1 to March 28 (the state reports its figures weekly). It had been $39.6 million in February. Mobile betting accounted for $10.2 million in March, down from $27.442 million in February.

RELATED: More on West Virginia sports betting

The mobile betting figure is 69.4% of the March sports betting revenue total, a slight increase over the percentage (69.2%) in February, according to the state’s lottery report. Top West Virginia online sportsbooks FanDuel and rival DraftKings began operating in the state in time for football season.

WV Sports Betting Handle, March vs. February

ChangeDown 63%Down 63%Down 63%

West Virginia’s March numbers are also competing against record-setting February numbers. In the first week of March, West Virginia saw $5.75 million placed in mobile bets. In the last week of February, the state set a record with $7.717 million in mobile bets — that was more than 71% of the total handle of $10.75 million, which was also a record.

Sports Betting Lacking Sports To Bet On

Sports leagues began postponing games on March 12 and the NCAA canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments the same day. Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order on March 18, closing all casinos in West Virginia. It also directed restaurants and bars to limit their service to carry out, drive-thru and delivery.

With all commercial casinos and pro sports leagues in the U.S. shut down by the coronavirus — most have been closed since mid-March — analysts expected March state revenue numbers to be down and April numbers to be minimal. And because all physical casinos are closed in West Virginia, the week ending March 28 was the first in which the state’s sports betting was entirely via mobile – $731,866 worth.

Some states have other online gaming options besides sports betting. Online casino gaming is legal in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Online poker sites are legal in those states plus Nevada. West Virginia and Michigan have legalized online casinos with launch dates scheduled for later this year.

To fill the void without sports, West Virginia briefly allowed political sports betting Tuesday night. FanDuel became the first U.S. sportsbook to post political odds, but they were quickly taken down after the West Virginia Lottery Commission decided it needed to do further research on the subject.

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