Online poker in West Virginia has been legal since 2019, but has never had an operator offering it. That’s expected to change now that West Virginia has joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). Could we see a PokerStars, BetMGM, WSOP, or Run It Once (RIO) poker launch in WV in the near future?
Last updated: December 1, 2023
Online poker in West Virginia and casino gaming was first legalized by state lawmakers in 2019. But the state doesn’t yet have any operators offering online poker — largely because the market is small and operators haven’t been interested in deploying there without being able to share liquidity with other states.
But a decision by the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) to join MSIGA — a multi-state compact for real money online poker in the US — is a real game changer. Operators in the Mountain State will now be able to combine their player pools from other states, sharing liquidity and being able to host bigger tournaments with bigger prizes.
The next step is for interested operators to submit a letter of intent to the WVLC to obtain the necessary approvals before launching an online poker platform. BetMGM, PokerStars, WSOP, and Run It Once Poker are seen as the most likely entrants into the new market.
Yes, but it’s not available yet. West Virginia recently joined a multi-state gaming compact for online poker and is asking operators to submit a letter of intent to obtain regulatory approval for a launch.
|Online Poker in West Virginia: Key Facts|
|📢 Status||Legal since 2019, but no operators currently offer online poker in the state.|
|📅 Date Legalized||Online poker became legal with passage of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act in March 2019.|
|👥 State Population||1.8 Million (ranks 40th)|
|🔥 Potential WV Poker Rooms||BetMGM Poker WV, PokerStars WV, Run It Once Poker WV, WSOP WV|
|🏆 Potential WV Tournaments||PokerStars West Virginia Championship of Online Poker (WVCOOP) & West Virginia Spring Championship of Online Poker (WVSCOOP), WSOP Gold Ring Online Circuit Series & Gold Bracelet Series. Additional series expected through Run It Once.|
|⚖️ Regulated By||West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC)|
|🔞 Legal Age to Gamble||21+|
MSIGA is a multi-state gaming compact that includes five states — Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia. It allows operators to combine player pools across multiple states, creating shared liquidity to support larger tournaments with bigger prizes.
As mentioned earlier, online poker operators have declined to set up shop in West Virginia up until now because the state is such a small market (only 1.8 million residents). Membership in a gaming compact like MSIGA has long been seen as a necessary precursor to launching real money online poker in WV.
The fact that WV has decided to join the compact is a positive sign that US online poker, more than a dozen years after the events of Black Friday, is a growing market with a bright future. It could also encourage additional US states and perhaps some Canadian provinces (e.g., Indiana, New York, Québec) to consider launching the vertical.
All eyes will likely turn to the Pennsylvania online poker market, — the biggest state with legal poker that is not a member of MSIGA. Governor Josh Shapiro is reportedly considering having his state join the compact, too, but one year after winning the gubernatorial election in 2022, he has yet to make a decision.
The expansion of MSIGA to include West Virginia offers at least four operators — BetMGM, PokerStars, WSOP, and Run It Once Poker — an opportunity to gain an edge over their rivals in a competitive marketplace.
PokerStars, Run It Once, and WSOP are not brands currently live in WV, but each could launch in the state soon.
BetMGM Poker has an advantage, in theory, over the other operators in West Virginia in that it already has a partnership with a land-based casino. But the operator has yet to combine its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, and also hasn’t launched online poker in Nevada — despite rumors it plans to deploy there and compete with WSOP NV.
PokerStars and WSOP will likely consider WV a chance to add to their existing networks. For PokerStars, that entails combining a new player pool in the Mountain State with the Michigan-New Jersey pool it created on January 1, 2023. Meanwhile, WSOP could aim for a network that includes Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia — especially since it will soon lose market access in Delaware.
|Operator||Potential WV Partnership||Network Plans|
|PokerStars||Needs to partner with one of the state’s five land-based casinos. Mardi Gras or Wheeling Island seems the most likely.||Potentially planning a three-state network of MI-NJ-WV.|
|BetMGM Poker||Has an existing partnership with the private Greenbriar Resort, where it offers online casino and sports betting. The operator will likely want to roll out online poker, too.||It likely aims to create a four-state network comprising MI-NJ-NV-WV but still needs to combine MI and NJ player pools.|
|WSOP||The Caesars-owned brand doesn’t have market access in WV since the Caesars Palace and Caesars Sportsbook brands are live for online casino and sports betting. Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island are likely partners, but Mountaineer is a possibility.||A four-state network across MI-NJ-NV-WV seems most likely after the loss of DE.|
|Run It Once||A poker platform in development by Rush Street Interactive (RSI). RSI’s flagship brand, BetRivers, is live in WV with casino and sports and operates under the Mountaineer license. Run It Once could partner with Mardi Gras, Mountaineer, or Wheeling Island.||Would likely create a four-state network that includes DE-MI-NJ-WV.|
PokerStars is considered the most likely to bring online poker to West Virginia despite not yet having market access in the Mountain State.
The operator must first partner with one of the state’s five land-based casinos. Two casinos already use all three skins allotted by state law for igaming, leaving PokerStars with three options — Mardi Gras Casino, Wheeling Island Casino, or (less likely) Mountaineer Casino. West Virginia gaming law prevents PokerStars from sharing the partnership that FanDuel, its sister brand, has with the private Greenbrier Resort.
After submitting a letter of intent to the WVLC, PokerStars could receive regulatory clearance to launch a three-state network under MSIGA, combining its players’ pools in Michigan, New Jersey, and West Virginia. PokerStars US combined its Michigan and New Jersey player pools on January 1, 2023.
BetMGM is another potential online poker operator. It currently offers online casino and sports betting through a partnership with Greenbrier.
The operator runs online poker rooms in Michigan and New Jersey and is rumored to be close to launching online poker in Nevada as well. But, unlike PokerStars, BetMGM has not yet combined its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey.
Moving forward, for BetMGM Poker to compete with its rivals, it is expected that the operator will launch online poker in West Virginia and Nevada at the same time while also combining its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey — thereby creating a four-state BetMGM Poker US network.
WSOP has a similar problem to PokerStars — the brand, which Caesars own, technically doesn’t have a partnership with one of the five land-based casinos in the state.
Since the Caesars Palace brand is live with online casino gaming in WV, and the sportsbook is Caesars Sportsbook, the state’s branding requirements mean WSOP could not utilize what is, in effect, Caesars’ partnership with Mountaineer Casino.
Consequently, WSOP, like PokerStars, will likely be looking to partner with one of three land-based properties — Mardi Gras Casino, Wheeling Island Casino, or (again, less likely) Mountaineer Casino. WSOP would then send a letter of intent to the WVLC requesting regulatory approval.
The operator could potentially create a five-state WSOP US network across all five MSIGA states. However, the operator will soon lose its access in Delaware with the coming departure of 888 as that state’s exclusive igaming provider — which included multi-state poker — so it might be eager to find another market to replace it.
Run It Once is an online poker platform currently in development by Rush Street Interactive (RSI). A launch is expected sometime in early 2024.
RSI deployed its flagship BetRivers brand to WV for online casino and sports betting, meaning the WVLC will consider Mountaineer Casino to be using a BetRivers skin — and Run It Once would have to find another land-based casino partner.
Another possible scenario would see RSI name its online poker platform “BetRivers Poker” or something similar in West Virginia, thereby avoiding any problems with the regulator or requiring an additional partnership. Otherwise, look for RSI to seek a separate partnership with the Mardi Gras or Wheeling Island casinos.
RSI will likely look to establish a four-state network through MSIGA, combining its player pools in Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, and West Virginia.
Yes, online poker is legal in West Virginia. The state passed the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act in 2019, allowing for the legalization of online poker. With WV joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), residents can engage in legal online poker, enjoying games provided by licensed operators.
However, to date, no online poker rooms have been launched in the state because it is a small market that wasn’t a member of a multi-state online poker compact. Now that WV has joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), the first online poker sites in WV could launch any day.
Not at the moment. The West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) has asked operators interested in offering multi-state poker to submit a letter of intent to gain the necessary approvals before launching. Michigan operators faced similar requirements before that state joined MSIGA in May 2022. Operators approved by the WVLC will be the only operators allowed to offer real money online poker in WV.
PokerStars is not currently available in the Mountain State, but the operator said shortly after West Virginia joined MSIGA that it would “review [its] options there.” That strongly suggests it could be one of the first online poker platforms to launch in the state.
WSOP is not currently available in West Virginia, but we expect it could be one of four online poker operators interested in launching in the state.
No, BetMGM Poker is not yet available in West Virginia. We anticipate that BetMGM will offer multi-state poker in West Virginia at some point — perhaps with a tandem launch for players in Nevada.
Yes, West Virginia has had legal online casino gaming since March 2019, with the passage of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. Online casino operators in WV include Betly, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Golden Nugget.
Since offshore poker sites do not offer the same consumer protection level as legal, regulated sites, they are not recommended. Players on offshore sites are at risk of identity theft because they are disclosing their financial and personal information. Federal officials have warned US citizens not to use offshore sites because they have no legal recourse to collect winnings owed to them.
Information on the dangers of US citizens gambling on illegal offshore sites and how to tell if a poker site is legal is available in this handy guide on Poker Shield.