Located in the eastern quarter of the United States, West Virginia is a landlocked state, bordered by Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It is the 10th smallest state in terms of area, and ranks 38th in terms of population size. West Virginia is well known for its rolling hills and mountains, as well as its historically noteworthy logging and coal mining industries, not to mention its political and labour histories. Interestingly, this state is also one of the most densely ‘karstic’ regions in the world, which means it has plenty of caves and caverns to explore. As such, caving, hiking and exploring are high on the list when it comes to tourism activities in the state. On top of that, activities like skiing, rafting, fishing, rock climbing and hiking are massively popular. But, with so many outdoor pursuits to partake in, what options do the locals have available to them when it comes to gambling? Is it allowed? Are there any casinos to visit, or are residents allowed to sign up for online casinos? Let’s read on and find out a bit more.
West Virginia Gambling Licences
Gambling was somewhat quiet in the state of West Virginia for many years, with the only form of gambling for money being pari-mutuel betting on horse races. This all changed in 1990, however, when a bill was passed to allow for the licensing of casino gaming. The biggest beneficiaries of this bill were the four major racetracks: Mardi Gras, Wheeling Island, Chester and Charles Town. These very soon became the go-to for slots and video games, on top of the already established live and simulcast races. The evolution of these ‘racinos’ was a massive source of revenue for West Virginia, though they still lacked the most lucrative casino games of all – table games.
Thankfully, table games were approved in 2007, and poker rooms offering cash games and daily tournaments were added. In 2010, the Greenbrier Hotel and casino became open to the public. Outside of these establishments, those wishing to gamble or play poker and other table games are out of luck. While gambling busts in West Virginia are exceptionally rare when compared to other states, those caught gambling illegally are still liable to a fine or prosecution. So, what about online gambling, or signing up at online casinos? As with so many states across the US, there is no specific wording in the state’s legislatures that prohibits online gambling outright – nor does it actually explicitly condone it, either. For that reason, residents of West Virginia can either choose to sign up at offshore online casinos that accept residents from the state (as long as they aren’t running the online organisation themselves), or stick to playing at Facebook casinos or mobile social casinos and social casino apps. Plenty of these offer some great free and fun online slots. If simply winning for fun with low stakes is what appeals to a person from West Virginia, they can take part in the numerous ‘charitable gambling’ options, which usually encompass lottery and bingo-type games.
Gambling in West Virginia
Compared to other states, one could argue that West Virginia has quite a booming gambling industry. Incidentally, the estimated average annual revenue generated from gambling here is a staggering $950 million, while annual taxation from gambling generates a further $295 million. While there are no tribal casinos – very big in other states – residents are free to get their game on at one of the very popular racinos. One law that is particularly stringent, however, is that of the legal gambling age in this state, which is set at 21.
Land-based and Online Casinos
As we have already seen, there are four major establishments where locals of West Virginia can play anything and everything from table games to online slots, as well as place pari-mutuel and simulcast bets on horse races. Then, there is also the prestigious Greenbrier Hotel and casino, which offers the same betting options (apart, of course, from betting on the races). Now, while there is no specific wording in the statutes banning online gambling, it is assumed to be covered by the existing statutes. Still, those from West Virginia wishing to place bets online can go ahead and register an account at one of the many offshore, international-based online establishments. Some popular choices include Bovada, WinPalace and Grand Parker.
For those who are sceptical about playing online for real money, there are loads of mobile social casinos to play on, or they can learn how to play on Facebook casinos. Because no real money is able to be withdrawn, and hence no profit gained, these fun and free alternatives to online casinos are perfectly legal
As we have already learnt, the four major racinos of West Virginia are the perfect place for placing pari-mutuel bets on live and simulcast races in other states. The advent of online casinos also saw a rise in online sports betting, but the laws around this would understandably fall under the same jurisdictions as online casinos – it isn’t explicitly forbidden, but isn’t explicitly condoned, either.
Bingo and Lottery
Just as is the case in plenty of other states across the US, a state lottery and bingo- and keno-style games are allowed, falling under the terms of ‘charitable gambling’. While video-poker machines were long ago outlawed in bars, they were simply replaced with video lottery terminals.
With West Virginia enjoying a perfectly healthy and thriving gambling industry, thanks to the prominence of racinos and a hotel casino, one can only hope that the statutes will soon enough be revisited to offer more insight into the state’s stance on online casinos and sportsbooks. Until such time, residents of this state can certainly get their gaming fix from one of the many land-based establishments, a handful of international online casinos and, of course, fun play casinos and free play online casinos, where no real money is used.