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The impact on sportsbooks from the coronavirus’ sports shutdown can be seen from the weekly results from WV sports betting in March.
Handled dropped 45.4% in the week ending March 14 compared to the prior week. That was the week most major American sports paused and March Madness was canceled.
With basically just fringe European soccer leagues and table tennis left, total handle for the remaining two weeks in March was less than $1 million each week.
They are the two weeks with the lowest handle since West Virginia sports betting launched Aug. 30, 2018.
While the week ending March 7 was generally in-line with the previous weeks after the end of the NFL season with $8.5 million in total handle, the next three weeks were substantially worse.
Mobile and retail sportsbooks combined for just $4.6 million in total handle for the week ending March 14. That was the lowest total handle for any week since the start of the NFL season. Total handle for the week ending Aug. 31, which included the start of the 2019 college football season, was $4.5 million.
The closure of casinos on March 17 helped contribute to the falloff in handle over the next two weeks. Handle for the week ending March 21 hit just $852,845. The next week, ending March 28, totaled just $731,866.
The comparison to the same four weeks last year, however, illustrates just how crucial mobile sports betting is to states.
Even with all sports available last year, handle for the four weeks last year was $13.9 million, or 5.8% lower than this year’s $14.7 million.
BetLucky, the only WV online sportsbook operating at the time, shut abruptly in early March 2019 due to a contract dispute. That meant only retail sports betting was available at Charles Town, Mountaineer and Greenbrier casinos for the period.
West Virginia is a bit of an outlier from other sports betting states as it explicitly allows betting on esports. That’s different from Nevada and New Jersey, which require special approval for an event.
DraftKings Sportsbook offers esports odds in West Virginia, as other states begin to authorize betting on more and more events.
FanDuel Sportsbook also became the first legal US sportsbook to ever take bets on a presidential election — for two hours at least.
Tose odds were pulled down shortly after going live Tuesday evening.
The West Virginia Lottery asked FanDuel to pull the odds down despite authorizing the markets in the first place, according to a statement. That’s likely because the legality of betting on elections remains murky at best.
Secretary of State Mac Warner has since called presidential election betting illegal in West Virginia and launched an investigation.