West Virginia has a long history with the gambling industry, particularly when it comes to horse racing. Particularly, the last 25 years have been a very busy period for the state: there is now a large casino presence here, one that offers the full range of classic games that are enjoyed by gamblers around the world.
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Online Expansion Seen as a Possibility
At the moment, there is no regulated online casino play in West Virginia, and we would be surprised to see this change in the immediate future. There haven’t been any bills brought before the legislature, and they haven’t held the kinds of meetings and forums seen in states like Pennsylvania or California.
But that doesn’t mean that the long-term prospects here are bad. All of the gambling stakeholders in the state appear to view Internet play as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Both lottery officials and casino owners are at least open to the idea, and some legislators have floated the idea as a possibility – provided that the proper protections could be put into place for consumers.
Still, there are no locally-regulated sites at the moment, so residents who want to play on the Internet only have two choices: take a trip up to Atlantic City, or play on one of the many foreign sites that offer their games in West Virginia. These overseas options regard the state as a “grey market,” and with no laws preventing players from participating on them, many individuals in the state play casino games for real money online at trustworthy sites on a regular basis.
Future Looks Bright
There may not be any licensed online gaming in West Virginia at the moment, many believe that this could be one of the states on the path towards full legalization over the next several years. There are a number of reasons to believe this: not only are the right people saying the right things throughout the state, but there is a lot of regional pressure building, something that will become even more obvious should Pennsylvania push forward with Internet regulation in 2016. We’re not expecting the Mountain State to join the online gambling marketplace in the next few years, but they could be a good medium-term bet to approve such betting.
On the land-based side of things, the biggest challenge going forward will, once again, be the increasing competition from surrounding states. Pennsylvania is the major driver in the area, as the state not only has resorts that pull in significant gambling dollars, but also its own racinos that go head-to-head for the same clientele as those in West Virginia. The biggest question may be whether all of the state’s tracks can survive in the current climate, or if there are simply too many racinos in the Mid-Atlantic for all of them to thrive in the long term.