Sports bettors in West Virginia have been without a mobile option for three weeks, and LSR obtained details about the bizarre fight at the heart of it.
BetLucky WV went offline in early March, and retail betting remains indefinitely suspended at Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island amid a third-party contract dispute.
As the outage has dragged on, it’s become evident that the disagreement lies between the platform provider and one of its external vendors. Miomni has supplied WV sports betting for the two Delaware North (DNGE) casinos since launch, but the identity of the third party had been a mystery.
A public request under the Freedom of Information Act, however, reveals Entergaming as the company on the other end of the dispute.
Explanation for WV sports betting outage
Nearly two weeks into the service interruption, Delaware North President E. Brian Hansberry provided regulators with an update. His March 19 correspondence to WV Lottery director John Myers includes the most complete account to date.
As Hansberry explained, Entergaming terminated its services to Miomni in February amid accusations of improper usage. Miomni, meanwhile, contends that it has acquired all rights necessary to operate the platform. It is refusing to make additional payments.
That standoff is the root cause of the interruption in DNGE’s sports betting operation. And neither side appears to be budging. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
Most recently, Entergaming and Miomni have traded strong accusations with each other. By way of example, Entergaming has claimed that Miomni used the Entergaming IP without proper rights, and that Miomni has otherwise breached its agreement with Entergaming. Miomni has indicated that it suspects that Entergaming improperly disabled the Platform, and asserts that Entergaming’s demands for payment are simply inappropriate.
According to Hansberry, Miomni did not immediately inform DNGE about its service interruption. The company also failed to disclose its reliance on the Entergaming platform as contractually required.
“We expect to be able to report on our next steps in the near future,” Hansberry wrote.
Miomni, Entergaming at center of the outage
Here is the letter in full:DNGE WV Lottery Miomni Entergaming
WV sports betting snafu
If you’ve not been following the story, here’s the timeline:
March 6-7: A Twitter exchange provides an early indication that something is amiss. Shortly thereafter, LSR first reports that two WV sportsbooks have suspended operations.
March 8: Wheeling Island begins engaging with customers on Twitter; Mardi Gras stops engaging. Wagers placed in the days prior remain unsettled. Both the WV Lottery and Delaware North publish statements.
The latter offers the most detail:
We have been informed by Miomni Gaming, our sports wagering platform provider in West Virginia, that they have encountered a contract dispute with a third-party technology supplier. This has resulted in the interruption of the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras sports-betting operations as well as the BetLucky.com mobile app from accepting new sports wagers. We are honoring and redeeming all resulted bets and are working to determine a time frame for restoration. We apologize for this interruption in service.
Read the lottery’s statement here.
March 9: More than 60 hours after issues first began, BetLucky takes to Twitter to confirm the outage.
March 13: BetLucky begins engaging directly with customers on Twitter after four days of radio silence. Wheeling Island stops engaging.
March 14: It’s been one full week with no mobile betting. BetLucky stops engaging customers on Twitter for five more days.
March 17: A scheduled March Madness betting event at Wheeling Island ends up turning into just a picnic.
March 19: The BetLucky account breaks its silence again with a non-update on Twitter. Public details remain sparse, but Hansberry sends a comprehensive update to lottery director John Myers.
March 20: After two weeks of trouble, the app still doesn’t work, the supplier remains mute, and customers have resorted to begging for a resolution. The WV Lottery releases another statement after meeting with representatives from Delaware North. Myers offers a bit more context in an interview with WV MetroNews, including confirmation that the problematic vendor is based in Cyprus.
March 22: At least some pending wagers are settled, according to first-hand reports from bettors.
Effects of the WV sports betting outage
Most overtly, the shutdown has put a serious dent in WV sports betting revenue.
Total handle for the week of March 10 dipped below $3 million for the first time since late December. The two Delaware North properties show negative revenue for the period, paying out open bets while not writing any new tickets.
The timing of the interruption couldn’t have been worse, either. March Madness betting is the biggest event of the year for US sportsbooks.
Less tangibly, the outage has left a sour taste in the mouth of everyone involved. Bettors are justifiably frustrated, and Delaware North isn’t thrilled about being backed into a corner.
Meanwhile, regulators are withholding licensure for additional operators while Wire Act litigation plays out in federal court.
Both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook are otherwise prepared to deploy their WV platforms, and both are objectively superior to Miomni’s product. They’ll certainly be better than the void that exists in the market today.
Delaware North + Miomni
The ink is barely dry on the contract between Delaware North and Miomni, which dates back to October 2018.
A joint press release heralding the union included some bold proclamations. The announcement referred to Miomni as an “expert firm on the technology side,” while DNGE pitched itself as a “principal architect in the evolution of gaming entertainment.”
The zestful duo even imagined a world in which third-party casino operators would seek out their combined services for sports betting. The press alert highlights their plans to develop a B2B platform in tandem.
DNGE certainly has the resources. It is an enormous company that owns hundreds of businesses across multiple industries — including food service, lodging, retail, and event planning. The group is based in Buffalo, employs 55,000 people, and has annual revenues of around $3 billion across its portfolio.
Miomni sportsbooks in its home state of Nevada, meanwhile, remain in operation at the time of writing. In addition to its partnership with Delaware North, it provides the NV sports betting interface for the likes of Caesars, Westgate, and Golden Nugget.
Even as their maiden joint venture is failing in WV, the two companies are working to bring BetLucky to Arkansas, too.
More on Miomni
Miomni Gaming, Ltd. is a prolific supplier of gambling technology with a substantial presence in the US. It pitches itself as a turnkey provider of industry-leading sportsbook technology, including risk management, cashiering, and front-end software.
From its website:
Miomni’s sport betting platform provides all features required for parallel on premise, internet and retail gaming/betting operation.
While that may be technically accurate, Miomni doesn’t supply an end-to-end solution by itself. In order to deliver its services, it relies on contracts with its own suppliers like Entergaming. According to Hansberry, Delaware North was unaware of the mechanics until its service was interrupted.
Miomni did not return multiple requests for comment.
Growing pains or a black eye for US sports betting?
There are three US states with legal, mobile sports betting in place — a number which will soon increase amid an unprecedented appetite for expansion. Pennsylvania is poised to join the pool in short order, and Rhode Island is well on its way, too.
West Virginia, however, managed to drag the tally down by one. As of the time of writing, only three of the five WV sportsbooks are open for business — one of them is private — and there are no mobile betting options available.
The last three weeks have been unfortunate, unsatisfying, and unsightly — both for West Virginians and for those watching the young WV sports betting industry struggle from afar.
This is officially a shitshow and a black eye for US sports betting. Difficult to say this is better than offshore where we're getting nonsense like this, and little in the way of transparency.
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) March 20, 2019
It’s that last sentiment that really cuts to the root of the problem. The outage in WV and smaller issues elsewhere make it difficult for the industry to argue that regulated sports betting is a better option than existing, offshore operations.
There will, no doubt, continue to be growing pains within the expanding US sports betting landscape. But the abundance of technology and expertise within the marketplace leaves no excuse for a total failure like the one in West Virginia.