Pennsylvania’s neighbor will soon join the Keystone State in the world of online casino gaming.
Last Wednesday, West Virginia legalized online casino gambling when House Bill 2934 became law. Gov. Jim Justice failed to act on the bill, just as he did with West Virginia’s sports betting last year. Even though he did not act, the bill become law after 15 days of inaction per WV law.
“There are a lot of different things out there that I guess people do (in online casino gaming),” West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers said in an article on MetroNews. “I think there are even some video lottery games like we have in the casinos to a smaller degree that you could even play.”
WV online gaming takes cues from other states
West Virginia is now the fifth state to legalize at least some form of online poker and online casino gambling, joining Pennsylvania, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. PA passed its online gaming law in October 2017.
The West Virginia law is similar to those passed by other states. Anyone 21 and older, and who is within West Virginia’s state lines will be able to play online casino games with a computer or mobile device. Each of the state’s five casinos are eligible to purchase a permit to host online gaming:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
Currently, the most popular online casino games are poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and slots.
WV online casinos shouldn’t greatly affect PA’s gaming
While the Mountaineer Casino in New Cumberland and Wheeling Island are only about an hour away from the Pittsburgh area, it’s unlikely West Virginia’s new law will steal substantial business from its neighbor. That is good news for the city’s two casinos, Rivers and The Meadows.
First of all, Pennsylvania’s online casinos are expected to launch much earlier than West Virginia’s. Most estimates expect PA’s online gaming to arrive in June or July. West Virginia will likely be more than a year behind that.
PA online gaming will feature numerous options
Furthermore, Pennsylvania is on track to provide online gamblers with a wealth of options. The PA Gaming and Control Board has already provided conditional approval for 10 of the state’s 13 casinos to offer online poker, slots, and table games.
- Harrah’s Philadelphia
- Hollywood Casino
- Mount Airy Casino
- Parx Casino
- Sands Bethlehem
- SugarHouse Casino
- Valley Forge Casino
Furthermore, qualified gaming entities (QGE) from outside of Pennsylvania were allowed to apply for the remaining online gaming licenses. Both MGM Resorts and Golden Nugget Atlantic City have filed paperwork. Each group is expected to offer some form of online gaming in Pennsylvania upon launch, pending PGCB approval.
West Virginia’s online gaming is more likely to target other states
Pennsylvania’s early action on online gaming will likely keep most of its online players within the confines of the Keystone State.
However, the new law in West Virginia is aimed beyond its borders. The online gaming legislation is hoping to attract gamblers from neighboring states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland. Those states have not yet legalized online gaming.
And that’s the biggest reason the bill drew bipartisan support in the WV state legislature.
“iGaming has the potential to bring millions of dollars in revenue to our state,” West Virginia legislator Jason Barrett said in the PlayWV article.
Put simply; the new online gaming bill is a boon for West Virginia. But not a major threat to its neighbor in Pennsylvania.