Mobile Betting Spurs West Virginia Handle To End Fiscal Year

Mobile Betting Spurs West Virginia Handle To End Fiscal Year

West Virginia sports betting ended the 2019-20 fiscal year with strong signs of recovery in June. Additionally, the state’s sports bettors, without a legal mobile wagering option early in the fiscal year, overwhelmingly chose to stick with that convenient option.

More than 90% of the state’s handle came in the mobile sector even after brick-and-mortar casinos reopened last month.

For the fiscal year, which ended June 30, West Virginia reported more than $257.3 million in overall sports betting handle. Slightly more than half ($132.6 million) came via mobile or online bets. That’s despite the fact that mobile options were dormant in the state until late August 2019, when FanDuel partnered with Greenbrier Resort to bring mobile sports betting options back to West Virginia after the BetLucky app went offline in March 2019.

Preference For Mobile Sports Betting Emerges

Mobile betting handle rose slowly until it overtook weekly retail betting for good in the first full week of January (West Virginia reports its figures weekly, rather than monthly as other states do).

Then the coronavirus struck in March and brick-and-mortar casinos and sportsbooks were closed. That left mobile as the only option from late March to early June and, despite having few live sports to wager on, West Virginia bettors seemed to warm up to the idea of going mobile only for their bets.

In June, the Mountaineer State saw a 27.5% rise in total month-over-month sports betting handle with $6,338,618, compared to $4,971,928 in May, according to figures released by the State Lottery.

The mobile sports betting handle rose nearly $1 million, from $4,971,928 to $5,742,051 month-over-month. That was a 15.5% rise in a month when bettors were (and are) still waiting for major North American sports leagues to return to action.

WV Sports Betting Handle, June vs. May

Change------Up 15.5%Up 27.5%
Note: West Virginia reports numbers weekly rather than by calendar month. June represents June 1-30; May represents May 3-30.

It was telling that even after physical casinos reopened on June 5, about 90.6% of West Virginia’s sports betting handle in June came from mobile and online options, which now include not only FanDuel but BetMGM (also at the Greenbrier) and DraftKings (in partnership with Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races).

That 90% figure matches bigger sports betting states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey for mobile sports betting market dominance. The fact that casinos are running at partial capacity in the wake of coronavirus-related safety measures is a factor, and the state has yet to return to pre-virus levels even for mobile sports betting.

Still, there’s no reason to think that legal, mobile sports betting won’t continue to be the vastly preferred option in The Mountaineer State going forward.

June’s total sports betting revenue (retail plus mobile) was $567,836, up 4.9% from May’s $541,188. The 2019-20 fiscal year’s retail sports betting figure of nearly $125 million was about the same as the $128 million in 2018-19. West Virginia casinos began taking sports bets in September 2018, about two months into the 2018-19 fiscal year, and they were closed for more than 10 weeks this year because of the coronavirus, so the number of weeks in operation from year to year is similar.

West Virginia Gaming Picture

Overall, West Virginia gaming should be entering an exciting time for the rest of 2020.

The state legalized online casino gaming and poker in March 2019 and both are expected to be operational later this year. The state will join New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania with legal online casino gaming and will join those three states plus Nevada in offering online poker. Michigan also plans to launch both options some time in 2020.

With sports betting set for a reawakening as major sports return and the other forms of wagering coming soon, West Virginia bettors should go from having few online gaming options to a bevy of them in less than a year.