Providers "Have Initiated the Process" for Online Poker in West Virginia Providers "Have Initiated the Process" for Online Poker in West Virginia

Despite a seemingly tepid response by online poker operators so far on the possibility of launching in West Virginia, the state regulator said some operators have started the process of having their poker platforms checked and approved before going live.

In an exclusive interview with Poker Industry PRO, West Virginia Lottery Commission Director John Myers predicted that it wouldn’t be long before a WV online poker operator would come knocking.

“The providers have initiated the process and I do feel they will take advantage of the opportunity,” Myers told PRO last Thursday. “I do not have an update on their timeline. At this time their response is that it will be later this year.”

Myers did not say which operators he was referring to.

Limited Feedback from Operators So Far

It’s been quiet since the WVLC led the state into joining a multi-state gaming compact for poker last November.

To date, no online poker operator has announced plans to launch in West Virginia — although BetMGM and PokerStars went so far as to congratulate regulators for having the state join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) last fall.

“We joined [MSIGA] to allow West Virginia service providers [the opportunity] to offer their customers multi-state poker,” Myers told PRO on January 23.

“At this time, none of the providers have completed their systems to offer the game. Although we hoped it would be available in the first quarter of 2024, that has not happened to date. Since the systems have to be tested and we still have not received any proposals, that may not occur as soon as was projected.”

WV Closer to Getting Poker Operators

Up to four online poker operators could come to West Virginia — BetMGM, PokerStars, WSOP, and Run It Once, a poker platform in development by Rush Street Interactive (RSI), are all candidates.

BetMGM appears to have the easiest path toward launching in West Virginia. It is already live in the state with online casino gaming and sports betting via a partnership with the private Greenbrier Resort.

PokerStars, Run It Once, and WSOP all appear to need a land-based partner. They have three options — partnerships with the Mardi Gras, Mountaineer, or Wheeling Island casinos are still available.

MSIGA is a gaming compact that currently includes five states — Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Under the compact’s rules, operators are allowed to combine player pools across multiple states — thereby creating shared liquidity, which can lead to bigger tournaments and prizes.

Membership in MSIGA is a boon for operators. Consider that one year after combining its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, revenue at PokerStars NJ soared 43% year-over-year.

Online poker aficionados in West Virginia have been waiting patiently for the chance to play from their home state. Online poker became legal in 2019, but it will remain unavailable until at least one operator takes the plunge.