West Virginia began offering legal sports betting at the end of 2018, but an ongoing dispute between casinos and their shared online betting provider shut down betting at two casinos (and shut down all online betting in the state) in early March.
Now, ahead of one of the biggest sports gambling weekends of the year with the start of March Madness, the online betting (and in-person betting at those two casinos) will remain, well, offline.
Sports wagering remains offline at Delaware North’s Mardi Gras Casino & Resort and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack due to on-going negotiations between their management services provider and a third-party, technology vendor.
“We are closely monitoring the situation as the parties involved continue to work toward a solution,” West Virginia Lottery Director, John Myers said. “Discussions are ongoing and we are hopeful that an agreement between the provider and its vendor will be reached that will allow the sportsbooks at Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island to reopen soon. However, it is now apparent that wagering will not resume at these locations in time for the early rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.”
There are still three physical sportsbooks open in West Virginia, but no legal online options. It makes since that what amounts to a fledgling industry (at least on the legal side) would experience growing pains, but this is a big problem for both the casinos and for players who might be stuck in limbo, unable to legally participate in March Madness betting.
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
And that’s the rub; for years, American bettors had to risk their funds at progressively shadier offshore betting sites. The idea of legalization was a promise to end all of that. But as West Virginia gamblers are discovering, it isn’t quite that simple, even in states that passed legalization legislation months ago.