CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV MetroNews/WSAZ) -- UPDATE 12/28/18 @ 10:15 p.m.
Sports betting is officially offered at Mardi Gras Casino after lawmakers passed a bill in early 2018 permitting West Virginia's five casinos open sports books.
Friday the casino hosted a launch to go along with WVU's bowl game against Syracuse.
It was a nice surprise for Kristy Saunders who hopes the new initiative will mean big bucks for the Mountian State.
"I think any money that West Virginia can generate, regardless of where that comes from, I think it's a great idea," Saunders said.
Lawmakers estimate sports betting will generate more than $5 million in revenue, with most of that money coming from users placing bets on an app from BetLucky.com.
Saunders says it's nice to see West Virginia getting a head of something and being one of the first in the nation instead of one of the last.
Lawmakers passed the bill before the U.S Supreme Court struck down a ban on sports betting. Not many states around our region offer it. Kentucky and Ohio lawmakers have brought it up, but nothing has passed.
"It's on the east coast so you have an option instead of Las Vegas," said Saunders. "To be one of the first on the east coast is just amazing, and it's right here in our own back yard."
Officials do encourage gambling safely and in moderation. If you or someone you know suffers from a gambling addiction, there are services available including a hotline. That number is 1-800-426-2537.
ORIGINAL STORY 12/27/18 @ 8:41 p.m.
Sports betting is making its debut at two more West Virginia casinos — and on the first mobile sports wagering app.
The retail sportsbooks at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in Wheeling and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston opened at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Both casinos are owned by Delaware North. The company also launched its BetLucky.com online and mobile app for statewide sports wagering.
The debut has taken place just prior to West Virginia University’s appearance in the Camping World Bowl on Friday, as well as the College Football Playoff semifinals and final.
The two latest join the three West Virginia casinos that already began offering sports betting this fall.
The others are Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Hancock County, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Racetrack in Jefferson County and The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.
West Virginia was among the first states to make sports betting legal in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.
“It’s exciting to see West Virginia finally be at the forefront of something instead of being last in line,” said Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio.
“With sports betting we are truly competing against neighboring states while raising revenue without raising taxes on West Virginians. I’m proud to see it come to fruition.”
A fiscal note for the gambling bill passed in the Legislature estimated sports betting would bring in about $5.5 million in revenue for the state its first year.
Much of the activity is expected to come from mobile apps.
In October, Delaware North announced its partnership with Miomni Gaming, a leading provider of U.S. mobile sports wagering technology, to provide turnkey retail and mobile sports wagering services.
Since then, the companies have focused on launching both retail and online sports wagering in West Virginia simultaneously.
The BetLucky.com sports wagering online and mobile app is the first to be available in West Virginia.
The free app can be downloaded directly at BetLucky.com or from the Apple App Store and can be used to wager anywhere within the state of West Virginia.
“We think West Virginians and visitors to the Mountain State are going to love how easy it is to register and use the app,” stated Luisa Woods, vice president of marketing for Delaware North’s gaming division.
“The platform was designed to be flexible, easy to use and reliable, with innovative features designed specifically to engage and entertain U.S. sports fans. Patrons at the casinos can use the app or the betting tellers in the sportsbooks.”
At the two casinos, Delaware North aimed to create sportsbook spaces with flexible configurations and high visibility.
Visitors may experience a casual sports bar atmosphere with social seating and proximity to food and beverage options, including bars.
The casino sportsbooks plan to offer a robust event calendar focused on major sports events.
“Our patrons are going to enjoy these spaces in the casinos and everything else we have to offer in terms of hospitality and entertainment,” stated Kim Florence, regional president and general manager for both Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras.
“We are eager to welcome people from throughout the state and the regions surrounding West Virginia to try a new experience at our casinos.”