In March 2019, West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize regulated online poker.
With a population of approximated 1.8 million, West Virginia has one of the smallest populations of the states that have authorized the return of online poker. However, with its five land based casinos all offering an option to play live poker, the state has an appetite for online poker that should eventually be met.
Even though online poker and online casino is technically legal in West Virginia, there are currently no active online poker rooms as officials are still in the process of finalizing regulation. Once that occurs, which is supposed to be done by June 2020, licenses for online gaming will begin to be distributed.
As online gaming gets closer to being a reality, partnerships with online poker operators are likely to emerge and the picture will become clearer as to how West Virginia will fit into the picture of legalized online poker in the U.S.A.
West Virginia Online Poker Sites
While it’s currently unknown as to which online poker operators will be up and running in West Virginia, we can take a look around the rest of the United States and to the companies that have launched in other regulated states as a clue.
After West Virginia Lottery officials finalize regulation details, the five brick-and-mortar casinos will allowed to apply for licenses and forge partnerships that will be able to offer players located within the state the ability to play online.
With a presence in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, PokerStars may be one of the online operators who will have an opportunity to furnish West Virginians with online poker. PokerStars may already have an ‘in’ at The Casino Club at Greenbrier as The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars, was recently acquired by Flutter Entertainment, parent company of FanDuel. FanDuel currently operates the on-site sportsbook at Greenbrier.
Whether with Greenbrier or another property, PokerStars is the largest online poker room in the world and may take every opportunity, no matter how small, to increase their footprint in the growing U.S. market.
Prior to the launch of PokerStars in Pennsylvania, WSOP.com, the online arm of the World Series of Poker, was the largest online poker room in the U.S. They were the first to take full advantage of the multi-state shared liquidity player pool between Nevada and New Jersey and may look to expand on that network by partnering in West Virginia.
888poker provides the engine for WSOP.com as well as offering their own branded skin in New Jersey. Additionally, the online site is also the exclusive operator in Delaware, providing them a strong foothold in the United States. If they were not looking to bring their own branded room to West Virginia, they may be one of the technology partners for a casino looking to offer online poker on their own.
partypoker is another brand that is investing in the United States by building out a network. Already up and running in New Jersey, partypoker has applied for a license to offer online poker in Nevada. While the smaller market of West Virginia may not be a tentpole piece of a U.S. network, a company like partypoker may leverage the opportunity to prove that they can be successful in markets both big and small.
West Virginia Poker History
West Virginia is officially the fifth U.S. state to legalize online poker when the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act became law on March 27, 2019.
The measure, also known as HB 2934 as it was introduced in the legislative process, was emphatically passed in both the House and Senate of West Virginia. It was then sent to the desk of Governor Jim Justice on March 9. Governor Justice had 15 days, excluding Sundays, to act on the bill. He could sign it into law, veto it, or do nothing in which case the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act would automatically become law.
Gov. Justice let the 15-day deadline come and go and so without any action from him, the WV Lottery Interactive Wagering Act became law and went into effect 90 days from its official passing. The effective date was June 9, 2019.
The wagering act, which legalized online gambling, including online poker, makes West Virginia part of a small group of states that currently allow for regulated online poker. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, all of which passed bills in 2013, currently have mature online poker markets. Pennsylvania, the largest state to currently have legalized online poker, had yet to launch online poker when West Virginia voted to allow online gaming. However, in November 2019, PokerStars launched in the Keystone State, making it the fourth state to have up-and-running online poker. However, unlike Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, Pennsylvania does not allow for the sharing of players pools across state lines.
It may be a while before West Virginians are able to get dealt a hand of online poker as West Virginia Lottery officials have until June 2020 to hammer out the regulations for offering online gaming. Once they have been finalizes the five West Virginian casinos will be allowed to apply for licenses. The five land based casinos that are eligible include:
- The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
Each one of the casinos will need to post a licensing fee of $250,000 with a license renewal every five years at $100,000 plus 15% tax on gaming revenue.
West Virginia sits only behind Delaware in being the smallest state to have legalized online poker. With a population of approximately 1.8 million, and no measures in place to allow the residents of West Virginia the ability to join the shared player pool of any other states, i’s unclear if online poker operators will be in any kind of a hurry to be up and running at the first available moment.
WV Online Poker Community
The PocketFives West Virginia Poker Community is a resource for poker players in West Virginia. The community is home to rankings, site reviews, news and a dedicated forum for legal and regulated online poker in the state.
Live Poker in West Virginia
West Virginia may not be known as a hotbed of live poker, but there are plenty of opportunities to find a cash game or daily tournament at one of the five land based casinos in the state.
* The Casino Club At Greenbrier – A small two table room with an regular Thursday night tournament and cash games that run on weekends and evenings.
* Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races – 16 tables with both No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha cash games as well as a variety of tournaments approximately four times a week.
* Mardi Gras Casino & Resort – One of West Virginia’s largest poker rooms, Mardi Gras features 18 tables and cash games that include $2/$5 NLHE, $5/$10 Omaha Hi and $1/$5 Seven Card Stud. Daily tournaments run every day except for Friday.
* Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort – The cash games at this 14 table venue are on the smaller side with $1/$3 NLHE and $2/$4 regularly being played. Tournaments run on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.
* Wheeling Island Hotel Casino – Open at 11am on most days, this nine table room features mostly No Limit Hold’em cash games.
West Virginia Online Poker FAQs
Is online poker legal in West Virginia?
Yes. The West Virginia House and Senate both passed West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act in March of 2019. It went to Governor Jim Justice’s desk and, without any action on his part, it officially passed on March 27. Ninety days later, on June 9, 2019, the law became effective. Officials have until June 2020 to finalize regulations and at that time land-based casinos will be allowed to apply for licenses in order to begin to offer online poker.
Which sites will be running in WV?
There are five brick and mortar casinos that have the ability to apply for one of the five $250,000 licenses. While no official partnerships have been announced at this time, The Casino Club at Greenbrier currently has a deal in place with FanDuel Sportsbook, which operates the land-based facility. FanDuel is owned by Flutter Entertainment, which recently acquired The Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars so there may be a connection there. Other sites that have a foothold in the United States that may be looking to get into the West Virginia market include partypoker, WSOP.com and 888poker.
Can I play on West Virginia sites even if I don’t live in the state?
It’s very likely that when all is said and done, you will not need to be a resident of West Virginia to play on WV online poker sites however you will need to be physically located within the states borders. Geolocation tools will determine your location and if you are in West Virginia, you should be allowed to participate in their online games.
What payments methods will be available?
Every online poker operator will want to make it as easy as possible for you to make a deposit. Except payment methods to include credit cards, e-wallets, and even wire transfers in some cases.
Which poker games are available online?
The poker variants offered on different online sites will differ from operator to operator. You can rest assured that No Limit Hold’em will be the dominant game offered by any online poker site that opens in West Virginia. Additionally, all of the major online poker operators will also be looking to offer cash games, Sit & Gos, and multi-table tournaments should the demand warrant it.
Will other online gaming be available in WV?
The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act does allow for other forms of online gaming including online casino games (slots, blackjack, roulette, etc.) as well as mobile sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
Who can I play poker with in WV?
When online poker goes live, this will depend on whether lawmakers allow for West Virginia residents to co-mingle with the player pools from other states. At the current time, West Virginia residents will only have the ability to play against other residents of West Virginia. However, with a population as small as WV, approximately 1.8 million, lawmakers may find it beneficial to embrace the shared liquidity enjoyed by states like Nevada and New Jersey and make look to join their current multi-state agreement.
Can I play poker with players from all over the world?
As outlined above, players from the rest of the world would not be allowed to participate in the games taking place in West Virginia. The best chance West Virginians have to increasing the player pool beyond their own population is a multi-state pact with other states that have regulated online poker.
Do I have to download anything in order to play online poker?
Some sites offer online poker in a browser, however the majority of online sites will have you download and install a client while allow them to keep you updated with the latest version of their software.
What are loyalty programs?
When West Virginia online poker finally goes live, online poker operators are going to want to earn your business and they will often provide a loyalty program that rewards players for playing with them. A play may earn points every time a real money game is raked and those points can be turned into rewards including free tournament tickets, merchandise, and sometimes even cash being put back directly into your accounts.
What is a deposit bonus?
In order to earn your business on their site online operators will use a deposit bonus as incentive to put money on a site. The bonus is when the online operator matches a player’s deposit up to a set amount as the player plays on the site. Normally a player has a limited window in which they need to play in order for the site to fully match the initial deposit.