Is Sports Betting Legal in West Virginia?

If you thought Virginia's sports scene was less than stellar, you haven't seen anything yet. West Virginia is anything but a hip and happening sports market. They have a couple of collegiate programs worth noting, mostly on the basketball front, and nothing more. Like the state of Virginia, they prefer to ride the momentum from sports squads in nearby regions—mostly Pennsylvania-based teams.

West Virginia Sports Betting Law

West Virginia does not allow sports betting of any kind. They don't even have the casinos to put a sportsbooks in. Essentially every gambling establishment they have is a racino—combination of race track with electronic gaming attached. The only standalone casino is The Casino Club at the Greenbrier, and that exists only out of exception from the law, not as an example of it.

No Real Casinos

West Virginia makes an exception for The Casino Club at the Greenbrier, but they don't really play home to a full-service gambling hall. They instead have a host of racetracks that, in recent years, have been allowed to carry electronic games, like slot machines and video poker.

Don't expect this to change in the near future...or ever.

Government representatives have argued in the semi-recent past that too many of the other surrounding states have more established and robust casino scenes, which would put West Virginia at a disadvantage, since they'd be breaking ground on these places knowing full well they may never, ever appeal to an out of state demographic.

Lackluster Revenue from Gambling

Despite the handful of racinos, which combine to offer a few thousand different gaming options, West Virginia has complained in recent years about lackluster profit margins. Superior options from neighboring states—like New Jersey and, to a lesser extent, New York—are cited as one of the primary causes, but West Virginia isn't helping themselves. They don't allow racinos to advertise, which diminishes awareness and, by extension, profit reports.

Daily Fantasy Sports Are Basically Legal

West Virginia is listed among the states that are still deciding on daily fantasy sports, but they've actually already chosen a side of the fence. Back in July 2015, the attorney general decided that the law "does not prohibit" an activity like daily fantasy sports.

This reasoning is the same logic used by plenty of other states.

They view these DFS competitions as games of skill rather than chance. And though this may not matter right now, the acceptance of daily fantasy sports creates an interesting precedent should West Virginia ever try diving into the legalization of sports betting.

Foggy Details on Social Gambling

Nearly identical to Virginia, the state of West Virginia doesn't offer a strong enough take when it comes to social gambling. The exact interpretation of the law would conclude that all forms of betting outside regulated establishments is illegal, but the language once again focuses on "gambling houses," which appear to be defined as for-profit organizations.

If you're neither an organization nor skimming off the top of poker and football pool buy-ins as some sort of a service charge, it's safe to assume you're in the clear. Not that it especially matters. Like many other states that boast uncertain social-gambling policies, West Virginia isn't in the business of knocking down every door just to break up a living room poker game among friends.

West Virginia Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren't allowed in West Virginia at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Not legal (exception has been made for Greenbrier location)
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal (but no federally recognized tribes)
  • Poker: Not legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Legal (unofficially)
  • Social Gambling: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

West Virginia Sports Teams

Due to the absence of enough noteworthy teams in West Virginia, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.

West Virginia Mountaineers (College Football)

While not quite the Virginia Tech Hokies, the West Virginia Mountaineers are more big-time program than small-scale operation. They have been around for 105 five years, so they're well-established, and they've never gone more than a year without making a Bowl game since 1987.

For a brief period between 2003 and 2007, they factored heavily into the national championship conversation. They made regular appearances in major Bowl games—one Fiesta Bowl, one Sugar Bowl, three Gator Bowls—and posted a 3-2 record in those tilts.

But that abridged era feels like forever ago. The Mountaineers have made eight Bowl games since, including a Gator Bowl and Orange Bowl, but they haven't wedged their way into the national title conversation at all over this time.

Marshall Thundering Herd (College Football)

With just 41 years of NCAA participation to their name, the Marshall Thundering Herd is one of the nation's younger football squads. As such, they haven't enjoyed too much success.

At the same time, 12 Bowl-game appearances in roughly four decades is nothing to sneeze at, especially because Marshall is a ridiculous 10-2 during those contests. They're far removed from their late 1990s to early 2000s glory days , when they made six straight Bowl contests and seven in eight years, but they have secured three minor Bowl berths in three of the last four seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)

Few NFL franchises are as storied as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They've been around for 85 years, through which time they've won six Super Bowls (eight appearances) and factored into the playoff conversation almost annually.

The past 13 years in particular have been kind to them. Ben Roethlisberger took over under center in 2004, and the rest is history. The Steelers have since made nine playoff appearances, three Super Bowl cameos and won two titles. 

Now 35, Roethlisberger doesn't figure to be around much longer. He has contemplated retirement over the past couple of offseasons, putting the Steelers in a touch-and-go situation. He continues to perform at a high level, but given his age and equivocation about playing, they'll want to make sure they have a contingency option in place as soon as possible.

West Virginia's Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

Every memorial day weekend, since 1960, the world's premier woodchoppers have congregated in Webster Springs, West Virginia, to partake in the Southeastern U.S. World Champion Woodchopper tournament. Many of you will laugh at the name, and premise, but people take these outdoor games very seriously. ESPN has, on occasion, aired activities like this, and the prize pool across the many various events is anything but insignificant.

Only in West Virginia.

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