Penn National Launches First In West Virginia
Legal Sports Report

West Virginia Sports Betting Officially Kicks Off September 1 At Hollywood Casino

West Virginia sports betting

The official launch date for West Virginia sports betting is here.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races will open its sportsbook September 1, according to its owner, Penn National. The launch will make West Virginia the fifth state to offer legal sports betting and the fourth to start after the repeal of PASPA in May.

William Hill will operate the sportsbook at Charles Town, as Legal Sports Report confirmed last week. The bookmaker previously announced a mystery partner in West Virginia sports betting whose identity is now confirmed.

Head start in West Virginia sports betting

It appears Penn National will have the West Virginia sports betting market to itself for at least a short time. The company received its permit to operate in West Virginia just last week.

The only other confirmed partnership in the state is between The Greenbrier and FanDuel Sportsbook. Neither side can confirm a launch date for The Greenbrier — which is owned by the family of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice — as yet. The Greenbrier and FanDuel also received approval from state regulators last week.

The Charles Town sportsbook will be located near the property’s sports bar, the company said. Penn National installed dozens of new televisions to build out the sportsbook.

“Our customers can’t wait to begin wagering on sports,” said Scott Saunders, general manager at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, in a statement. “This region is a hotbed of both professional sports and college athletics, and we look forward to becoming a destination for fans in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.”

Multiple approvals from West Virginia

The West Virginia Lottery on Friday also approved Mardi Gras Casino in Charleston and Wheeling Island Casino in Wheeling for sports betting licenses. Both are operated by Delaware North.

Wheeling’s geographic positioning makes for an interesting sports betting market. Located in an arm of West Virginia that juts between Pennsylvania and Ohio, Wheeling Island could attract customers from both states. Ohio does not yet offer sports betting and Pennsylvania will not start before football season, although its first sportsbook is on the way.

No start dates are available for the two casinos at this point.

Still two weeks until September 1

While all appears to be on-track for West Virginia sports betting given this announcement, at least a small caution must be extended. Justice and his administration have not made this launch a simple proposition.

The governor and his staff fought for months to include language more favorable to sports leagues first in state law and then in regulations. Legislators approved West Virginia sports betting in March and it became law without Justice’s signature.

The governor later convened a summit that included casino and sportsbook operators, sports leagues, and state universities. Justice wanted to reopen the law to help the leagues, two of which hold training camps at The Greenbrier. That ultimately led nowhere as legislators reaffirmed their commitment against integrity fees.

Penn National continues a busy week

The launch announcement for Charles Town comes just a day after Penn National revealed plans to launch sports betting at five Mississippi properties. Two of those casinos will start today, with another three slated to start up in a week.

The gaming giant did not announce partnerships for any of the properties in Mississippi. But speculation persists that Penn National and William Hill will extend their relationship from West Virginia to Mississippi sports betting as well.

Also left unsaid in Penn National’s release are plans for a potential mobile or online betting solution. West Virginia casinos can approve up to three skins, or branded online/mobile betting platforms, under their license.

Adam Candee
- Adam Candee covers sports business and news from Las Vegas. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun and KLAS-TV.