West Virginia is the 12th smallest state in the US, with a comparatively small population of 1,793,716 residents. It’s famous for the Appalachian mountain range and lush, dense forests, but life in the state is not easy – it’s the fifth-poorest state in the US.
Casino lovers in the state can find comfort in the five legalized gaming houses scattered across WV. Data shows that a fair percentage of West Virginians engage in gaming to enjoy a good time. As a result, the state realized 487.1 million USD in taxes from casino houses in 2021. In addition, 8,347 jobs were provided by these casinos.
The government of West Virginia is doing a great job with its gaming industry. However, many aspects of online poker are still being debated in WV. So, in this guide, we’ll take you through the legality of online poker in West Virginia, the best sites that will be launched soon, and the likely future of online poker in the state.
Poker Sites We Recommend
History of Gambling in West Virginia
Several forms of gambling have been popular in WV for years. The first was racing. Racing betting has been legal in WV since 1931 with these early races held at the Mountaineer Race Track and Charles Town Races. Dog racing was also popular, and dogs raced in the Wheeling Racetrack and Mardi Gras lanes.
Five decades after the legalization of horse racing, the state lottery was approved and licensed. This happened in 1984, but the first event occurred ten years later, in 1994. Casinos were also legalized in 1994. Eventually, the state lottery grew to include a video lottery, video poker, slots, numerous table games, and finally, live poker was added to the menu in 2007. Video poker in particular was hugely popular with West Virginia gamblers..
In 2001, West Virginia legalized video poker and applied some rules to keep the industry under control. Under the Limited Video Lottery Act, which legalized the games, old video poker machines – many of which were used for fraudulent activities – were removed. To operate a video poker room, operators had to get new devices and have them licensed by the state. The tax rate, which was at 48%, also increased to 52%.
The West Virginia gambling industry was at its peak until Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland all legalized casinos. It seems that some of the gamblers who helped grow WV’s gambling industry were from these neighboring states. The gambling profits realized in WV have never been as buoyant as they were in that time.
Gambling Laws In West Virginia
The laws state that an individual must be 21 years or older before legally participating in casino wagering and video lottery. If you want to gamble on racing, bingo, or lottery games, 18 years is the minimum age that is legally acceptable. There are also heavy penalties for unregulated gambling. Before any expansion can be made to the gambling laws, the state’s constitution would have to be amended which would require a statewide referendum.
The WV gambling laws are contained in the West Virginian Code, Section 61-10. According to these laws, gambling entails giving monies or other valuable items for any game of chance either by yourself or through another. The penalty for taking part in unregulated gambling ranges from fines of 5 to 100 USD for wagering at table games and slots, to fines of 100 to 1,000 USD. Defaulters could also serve a year’s jail term for keeping a gaming table or machine. Despite these seemingly severe gambling penalties, there are several regulated gambling options you can choose from.
Following the trend of four other states, in 2018 WV became the fifth state to legalize sports betting. A year later, WV officially legalized online poker. The regulations are still being worked on, but poker lovers can now enjoy their favorite game without fear.
Is Online Poker Legal In West Virginia?
The good news is, online poker is legal in West Virginia. Not only do the state laws support online poker, but the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act of March 2019 also alleviates all doubt as it makes regulated gambling an extension of the state lotteries.
The West Virginia lottery initiative Wagering Act was borne of the hard work of a West Virginia delegate named Shawn Fluharty. Hewas amazed at how much online gaming could impact a state’s revenue base and initiated the move to legalize online gaming in WV. In 2019, regulated online gambling was made legal in the state.
The Situation of Online Poker in West Virginia
With the lottery initiative Wagering Act, it is easy to assume that many online poker operators are stampeding toward WV to be licensed, but this is not the case. Although online poker is legal in West Virginia, things have been a bit rocky in online gambling.
Given that the population of WV is just about two million and there are no player-sharing agreements between WV and other states, West Virginia is a low-priority market for online poker developers. This is because the state cannot provide much traffic for online poker sites. It would be pointless to create an app for online poker in West Virginia if very few people were going to register. The player pool would be too small to meet the liquidity requirement of the app.
Therefore, it’s hard to say when a new WV online poker site will be launched. But West Virginia will not remain an online poker desert for much longer. The home-based regulators have begun discussing joining the multi-state poker network, and an online poker brand has decided to launch soon.
How Would Online Poker Work in West Virginia?
Once a new poker app finally touches down in West Virginia, this is how it will work, step by step:
- Download the application onto your mobile device.
This should be straightforward. Just follow the app’s directions for your device.
- Register on the app and deposit your sign-up sum.
You usually have to make a deposit before playing..
- Use a payment method that is suitable for you.
There are several deposit options including electronic wallets like Neteller, Skrill, and PayPal, credit or debit cards, e-banking or wire transfer, among other options. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options before settling for any. For instance, many banks will not conduct business with gambling sites.
- Select Your Desired Poker Specialty.
The most popular game is Texas hold ’em but if you want to play something else check for sit-n-go, tournament, fast-fold, or cash games.
- Look Out For Bonuses
It’s great to use your deposit to wager competitively, but it is better to use bonuses and save your deposit. Online games are preferable to live poker games because they offer more rewards. This is because they do not have as many expenses as live poker casino houses. There are no-deposit bonuses, reload bonuses, free roll tickets, and loyalty bonuses to be bagged. Also, pay attention to the playthrough requirements for the prizes.
Who Regulates Online Poker in West Virginia?
The West Virginia Lottery Commission regulates Online Poker in WV. This commission is a part of the ten agencies that comprise the Department of Revenue. The commission is headed by John Myers (the Director). Its headquarters is at 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, Charleston, WV 25302.
The commission oversees all lotteries within the state’s borders. Traditional lottery games, casino gaming, limited video lottery, racetrack table games, racetrack video lottery, and online gaming are all regulated by the West Virginia Lottery commission. The commission functions under a remit to enforce social responsibility, integrity, and security of state revenue.
West Virginia online poker will be tightly regulated, and prospective operators must ensure the proper licensing, encourage good gaming habits, organize fair games and train their staff well.
Best West Virginia Poker Sites 2022
If you have decided to play poker in WV, here is a list of the top sites we recommend you check out when they launch.
1. BetMGM Poker
BetMGM will likely be the first site to launch in WV since they are already present in the state. They already have a sportsbook in West Virginia so will be able to easily add online poker to their existing software.
2. WSOP.com WV
WSOP.com also possesses excellent potential to become a fantastic online poker site in WV. They have already proven their capabilities to provide incredible gaming in Nevada and New Jersey. However, WSOP.com would require a great pool of players before extending operations to WV.
3. PokerStars WV
PokerStars have an advantage in that because of the merger between FanDuel and Flutter Entertainment, its parent company. PokerStars has now established connection at The Greenbrier. Using this to their advantage, they can expand to incorporate and provide online poker much faster.
4. Party Poker
Party Poker is also a great place to gamble online. They not only ensure customer satisfaction but the safety of their site. Players can also find multiple gaming options on the site and only a small deposit is required.
Online Sweepstake Poker in West Virginia
The laws in WV favor an extensive range of gaming activities, and sweepstake online poker is a part of the picture. Using a site like Global Poker, players can buy packages of gold coins and get credited with bonus sweep coins. They are the currency that lets you participate in tournaments or games on the site and cannot be used outside the Global Poker domain. You can exchange the sweep coins for virtual or physical gift cards..
WV Online Poker FAQs
Why should I play online poker in WV?
Because it’s convenient, safe, and fun. You can access your favorite game with the push of a button!
Is online poker in WV safe?
Playing online is safe if you stick to trustworthy sites. Well-known sites that the commission has licensed guarantee the safety of your deposit. Reputable sites like PokerStars also use SSL encryption to enhance the safety of gamers’ personal and financial data, and all gaming funds are stored in highly secure bank accounts.
Do I have to be a resident in WV to play?
Certainly not! You do not have to be a native of WV before you can play online poker. However, you must be within the state’s borders to create your account and play the games. Geolocation tech will be employed to confirm that all players are within the state’s geography; you will not be able to access the WV poker apps if you’re outside WV.
How long does it take to deposit money on WV poker sites?
Whenever you deposit to well-known sites, the fund is credited to your gaming account immediately. There is usually no need to wait. Your deposit will be reflected straight away, and you can go on to play a game within minutes.