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Gambling Laws in West Virginia

Key Points

  • West Virginia legalized online gambling in March 2019 via the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (House Bill 2934).
  • The state’s online market officially kicked off in July 2020.
  • In-person gambling was first legalized in West Virginia by the State Lottery Act (1985)
  • Other notable laws include the Racetrack Video Lottery Act (1994), Limited Video Lottery Act (2001), Lottery Racetrack Table Games Act(2007), and the Greenbrier Casino Act(2008).
  • Sports betting became legal in 2018 by the Lottery Sports Wagering act. (Senate Bill 415)

West Virginia has a thriving internet gaming industry that offers a wide selection of thrilling online casinos. Online gambling was legalized in March 2019 by the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (House Bill 2934). The state’s online market officially kicked off in July 2020.

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As of 2022, West Virginia's market has room for up to 15 online casinos (and accompanying gaming apps) since land-based casinos can run up to three gambling sites at the same time.

Under the online gambling law, each of the five casinos in the state is eligible to apply for an internet gambling license. By Section 29-22-4 of the West Virginia Code, West Virginia Lottery Commission is the regulatory body in charge of the gambling sector (offline and online). It comprises seven members that can make regulations necessary to carry out the state’s law. This Commission was founded in 1985 following votes by residents to legalize lottery in the state.

There is an age requirement to be eligible to participate in legal gambling activities in West Virginia. The legal age for traditional and video lotteries, playing bingo, purchasing raffle tickets for charities, and wagering horse and dog races in player pools at live tracks or off-track betting establishments is 18 years.

However, you must be 21 years or older to play at a physical or online casino, racino, sports betting, and electronic terminals at racetracks.

Forms of gambling prohibited in West Virginia include animal fighting (usually cockfighting or dogfighting), “policy” or “numbers” games, gambling in hotels, maintaining gaming devices or tables on the premises, or keeping watch on gambling activities.

Gambling History

In-person gambling was first legalized in West Virginia by the State Lottery Act (1985), the Racetrack Video Lottery Act (1994), Limited Video Lottery Act (2001), Lottery Racetrack Table Games Act (2007), and Greenbrier Casino Act (2008).

Sports betting became legal in the state in 2018 by the Lottery Sports Wagering Act (Senate Bill 415). These laws can be found in Chapter 29 of the West Virginia Code.

Online Casino Laws in West Virginia

The passage of House Bill 2934 in 2019 made online casino gaming legal in West Virginia. This bill became the Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. It made West Virginia the fifth state to legalize online casinos.

The year after the passage of the law saw the launch of the first online casino — DraftKings Casino, partnering with Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. It was followed by the launch of BetMGM Casino (the Greenbrier) and BetRivers (Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort).

The Lottery Interactive Wagering Act provides that the West Virginia Lottery Commission has the authority to regulate the enforcement of the law. It also provides that five West Virginia casinos will launch their internet platforms and provide poker, slots, and table games.

It proposes a 15% tax rate on profits from internet gaming. The legal age to gamble in West Virginia is 21 years.

West Virginia law states that the five land-based casinos in the state can apply for a master license and partner with up to three online operators. This means there can be up to 15 online casinos in West Virginia. Every online casino must partner with a land-based casino.

The five land-based casinos qualified to partner with online operators in West Virginia are:

  • The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races – Charles Town, West Virginia
  • Mardi Gras Casino and Resort – Cross Lanes, West Virginia
  • Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort – New Cumberland, West Virginia
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack – Wheeling, West Virginia

To register and play online casino games, you must physically be in West Virginia. You cannot play from outside the state.

​​Casino games offered in West Virginia include poker, blackjack, slots, roulette, live dealer, craps, video poker, baccarat, keno, etc. Although land-based and online casinos provide similar games, you cannot play games like bingo on online casinos.

In-Person Casino Laws in West Virginia

West Virginia generally has liberal casino gambling legislation. Since the middle of the 1990s, casinos have been permitted through the Racetrack Video Lottery Act; they are typically found at racetracks. Visitors can wager on the races and play slots simultaneously in this fashion. In 2007, by Lottery Racetrack Table Games Act, the state also permitted the locations to offer table games, bringing them into compliance with modern standards.

Sports Betting Laws in West Virginia

By West Virginia Lottery Sports Wagering Act (Senate Bill 415), in-person and online sports betting are legal in West Virginia. This law was passed in 2018, making West Virginia the fifth state to legalize sports betting. It excludes high school sports and sports with minors from the purview of legal sports betting activities. The law became active after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The West Virginia Lottery Commission oversees the sports betting industry in the state. The Lottery Commission licenses sportsbooks and regulates their activities. Every sportsbook must have a land-based location within the state to get licensed for sports betting. Unlicensed and offshore sportsbooks are illegal in West Virginia.

The legal age for sports betting in West Virginia is 21 years. Also, you must be within state boundaries to place sports bets. Popular sports betting options in West Virginia include football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and soccer. Sports betting proceeds are subject to a 10% adjusted gross revenue tax.

Daily Fantasy Sites Laws in West Virginia

Both season-long and daily fantasy sports (DFS) are legal in West Virginia. Fantasy sports is considered to be a game of skill, which is legal in the state, though there is no formal legislation for them.

The state’s Attorney General stated in 2016 that skill plays a significant role in fantasy sports and that luck is not the primary determining factor. Therefore, authorities determined that there are no justifications for banning daily fantasy sports played online.

The major DFS locations welcome visitors from West Virginia and are not subject to any particular rules. In general, the major fantasy sports sites are already subject to strict regulation in other jurisdictions and follow the same protocols required in those states to safeguard player funds and conduct fair games in West Virginia.

Lottery Laws in West Virginia

Lottery became legal in West Virginia in 1984. Residents of the state voted to approve a state lottery that year. In 1985, the State Lottery Act was enacted, permitting instant games and recurring lottery drawings. By the Racetrack Video Lottery Act, racetracks received permission to start hosting Video Lottery Terminals in 1994. They enter their property via the three tracks Mountaineer, Wheeling, and Mardi Gras. The legislature approved Video Lottery Terminals for additional public areas in 2001 through the Limited Video Lottery Act. They started being installed in bars, restaurants, and fraternal groups.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission regulates lottery in the state. Before operating Video Lottery Terminals, the state’s racetracks must receive local approval. A licensed racetrack is allowed to set up and run 400 Video Lottery Terminals, and they can apply to operate more. Video Lottery Terminals must be located in an area with age restrictions that has been authorized by the Lottery Commission.

The West Virginia Lottery offers both popular multi-jurisdictional jackpot draws and within-state games. However, West Virginians can only purchase lottery tickets from retail stores because the state does not allow online lottery play yet. Despite the progressive stance the state has taken in regards to legalizing online casino gaming and sports betting, online lottery is not permitted in the state.

Players can purchase WV Lottery tickets and scratch cards at numerous authorized merchants in the interim. Additionally, bars and fraternal organizations all around the state have Video Lottery Terminals. You can purchase games like PowerBall, mega millions, lotto America, daily 3, daily 4, cash 25, keno, and scratch-off games.

A lottery prize winner has 180 days to claim it. After that, it is returned to the state lottery fund to be used to give out more rewards. 45% of the proceeds from the West Virginia Lottery are given out as prizes, 15% go toward running and administrative costs, and the remaining 40% is net profit. The State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund receives the net profits and invests them in several deserving causes such as education, health, infrastructure, public facilities, etc.

A number of activities are prohibited to ensure that the lottery is conducted fairly. They include:

  • Altering or forging lotto tickets.
  • Selling lottery tickets when not licensed to sell them.
  • Selling the tickets at a greater price than they cost.
  • Selling lottery tickets to minors under 18 years old.

Racing Betting Laws in West Virginia

In West Virginia, both live and online horse racing betting are legal. This involves wagering on both horses and dogs. Since West Virginia law mandates that horse and greyhound tracks perform a specific number of races each year to maintain their gambling licenses, both sports are actually contractually tied to the larger gambling sector.

Pending Legislations on Gambling in West Virginia

  • House Bill 4757 was proposed in February 2022 to amend the Code of West Virginia to add provisions relating to the taxation of gambling and lottery winnings. Gambling and lottery winnings are taxable as personal income. When calculating earnings for tax years starting on or after January 1, 2023, the taxpayer may deduct losses from gambling and lotteries up to the amount won that year. Still, they cannot deduct expenditures and expenses related to gaming and lottery activity. If taxpayers want to claim losses as a deduction, they must keep thorough documents proving those losses. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to demonstrate any losses.

  • House Bill 3309 was introduced in 2021 to create and fund a Video Lottery Terminals Modernization Fund. This fund is created within the excess lottery fund to finance any person licensed to own and run one or more limited video lottery terminals. They may recoup the costs of replacing the limited video lottery terminal with money from the fund.

  • House Bill 3308 was introduced in 2021 to amend and reenact the Limited Video Lottery Act. It seeks to increase the number of limited video lottery terminals permitted at particular licensed limited video retailer spots in the state. It provides that the West Virginia Lottery Commission may not permit the installation of more than 9,000 video lottery terminals in restricted access, adult-only establishments in the state. Also, the bill states that only seven and a half percent of the video lottery terminals licensed may be operated directly or indirectly by one individual. These terminals may only be located in adult-only facilities with restricted access. The bill also provides a bidding process for permits for additional terminals.

  • House Bill 2418 was introduced in 2021 to authorize the West Virginia Lottery Commission to pass a legislative rule relating to the West Virginia lottery interactive wagering rule.

  • Between 2020 and 2022, a number of bills have been referred to the Committee on Government Organization to amend the Code of West Virginia concerning state recognition of Native American Tribes. These bills are proposed to be called the West Virginia Native American Tribes Unique Recognition, Authentication, and Listing Act. These bills include House Bill 2162 (2019), House Bill 4471 (2020), House Bill 2107 (2021), Senate Bill 705 (2022), and House Bill 4392 (2022). These bills seek to provide West Virginia Native Americans with educational, cultural, and economic development opportunities, and incentives. In relation to gambling, these bills provide that the proposed legislation shall not be construed to imply or permit gambling or gaming regulated by the West Virginia Lottery Commission.