With the first payment by a casino for a gaming license in sports betting, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia has received a sports betting license. This signals West Virginia’s entry into the sports betting market, joining Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. While this is the first license granted in the Mountaineer State, it is sure to be followed by other cities in West Virginia.
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has been in operation as a racetrack since the 1930s and has been offering different types of horse racing since then. The track, once owned by a racing club, was sold to a gaming corporation in the early 2000s. The casino offers a 150-room hotel and the track has a full racing schedule nine months of the year, as well as the $100,000 purse Breeder’s Classic. The casino portion of the track has 3,000 slot machines, as well as dozens of tables for games.
The casino paid $100,000 for the license, which will be good for five years. The casino estimates that the timeline for sports betting begins the week of Aug. 27. That week will include practice games to make sure that all parts of the sports betting franchise are ready to receive guests. The planned opening to the public will be Labor Day holiday weekend. Sports bets will not be taken all over the casino, but rather in the Skybox Sports Bar, which will lose its slot machines and gain lots of new TVs.
Hollywood Casino is partnering with William Hill, which runs sportsbooks primarily in the United Kingdom but also in other countries as well, to run the sportsbook at the racetrack. William Hill, which already runs a sportsbook in New Jersey at an Atlantic City casino, is in direct competition with Betfair, another British company, as well as two U.S. fantasy sports companies; DraftKings and FanDuel. William Hill has established a large footprint in the United States in an early bid to grab as many casinos as possible. The company has a sportsbook business in Nevada, which is rated the No. 1 overall sportsbook in the state, and has become the risk assessor for the state of Delaware, helping it to regulate its new sportsbook franchises. The company also plans to launch a sportsbook by the time the NFL begins play in earnest in September.
Competition in the Future
Currently, Hollywood Casino has no competition for sports betting in the area, or even in states that are close to Charles Town, which is in the state’s Eastern Panhandle. West Virginia’s other casinos — Mountaineer in Chester; Wheeling Island Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro; and the Greenbriar’s Casino Club — should have their licenses by next month and begin welcoming sports betting to compete with the Charles Town casino.
The State of Sports Betting
Until this past May, there were only four states that were allowed to have sports gaming. However, only Nevada was allowed to have single-sports betting. The other three states — Delaware, Montana, and Oregon — were allowed to have parlay betting only, which meant that people who wanted to gamble had to either bet on multiple game days for the same team or bet on multiple games on the same day.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May, and that means states have the right to choose for themselves whether they want sports gaming. Experts believe that at least three other states will have sports gaming in place by the end of the year.
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