The more the merrier! It’s official — West Virginia is the fifth US state to support multi-state poker.
The Mountain State is now a signatory of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), a multi-state gaming compact that supports real money online poker in the US and some casino gaming. The other four members of the compact are Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.
“The more the merrier!” exclaimed gaming law attorney Jeff Ifrah of Ifrah Law PLLC.
Former Indiana Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), who also served as president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), said West Virginia’s decision to join MSIGA “makes sense, total sense.”
“It’s great for poker players in those seats,” Ford told pokerfuse in an exclusive.
Online poker is still likely several months away from becoming reality. That’s because there aren’t currently any operators offering the vertical, and operators will be required to request permission to launch multi-state poker from the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC).
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West Virginia’s gaming laws allow each of the five land-based casinos in the state to apply for an online casino license. Each casino is allowed three igaming skins — meaning there could be as many as 15 online poker operators in the Mountain State.
There will probably be much fewer than that. Consider that only nine operators are currently live in the state with online casino and sports betting.
Current Operators in West Virginia
|Operator||Land-Based Casino Partner||Offers Online Poker?|
|Betly||Mardi Gras Casino, Wheeling Island Casino||No|
|DraftKings||Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races||No|
|ESPN Bet1||Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races||No|
|Fanatics2||Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races||No|
|Golden Nugget||Greenbrier Resort||No|
|Rush Street Interactive (RSI)||Mountaineer Casino||Not Yet5|
Notes: (1) Formerly Barstool. (2) Formerly PointsBet. (3) PokerStars is not a licensed operator in WV. (4) PokerStars needs a land-based casino partner. (5) RSI is expected to launch its Run It Once poker platform by early 2024.
The list of potential operators for online poker in WV includes BetMGM, PokerStars, Rush Street Interactive (RSI), and WSOP. Representatives for each did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.
WVLC has been interested in joining MSIGA for over two years. The regulator said it would take the steps necessary to join the compact if one of the nine operators currently deployed in the state expressed an interest in launching multi-state poker.
It’s unclear if one of West Virginia’s online operators were the impetus for the state joining MSIGA.
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Several Operators Could Deploy in WV
BetMGM might launch online poker in West Virginia and connect it to player pools it already has in Michigan and New Jersey. These two sites are currently disconnected, though the work to connect them is thought to be underway.
PokerStars could also launch online poker in the state — through a new partnership with Mardi Gras, Mountaineer, or Wheeling Island casino, since Greenbrier is already using three skins. It could connect its West Virginia player pool with the existing shared network spanning Michigan and New Jersey.
RSI is still working to develop its Run It Once (RIO) online poker platform, with a launch expected by early 2024. The Chicago-based operator could decide to launch a three-state network for online poker — which would include Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia.
WSOP could also enter West Virginia — parent company Caesars operates under the Mountaineer license. It could create a four-state network with Michigan, New Jersey, and Nevada though it has yet to connect its Michigan and New Jersey player pools.