Whether it’s been hiring and training new employees, testing software or making everything “just so,” it’s been a busy few weeks at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. The casino is set to be the first in West Virginia to open for sports betting. The sportsbook will open Saturday, the first day of the first full weekend of the college football season.
NFL legend Joe Theismann will place the state’s first bet, following in the footsteps of Dr. J in New Jersey and Willis McGahee in Mississippi. The plan is for an “opening ceremony” at the sportsbook at 11 a.m., followed by the first bet.
We are proud to announce the grand opening of The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on Saturday, Sept. 1. Former professional football player, Joe Theismann, will join us in the festivities that day! @Theismann7 @HollywoodCCTR pic.twitter.com/VMvpzDoHF0
— Hollywood Casino (@HollywoodCCTR) August 22, 2018
The goal had been for all five of West Virginia’s sportsbooks to open simultaneously, but only the Hollywood Casino is ready and as such will go down in the history books as accepting the first legal sports bet in the history of the Mountaineer State.
First Weekend of WV Sports Betting Promises to Be Hectic. William Hill Will Operate WV’s First Sportsbook at the Hollywood Casino.
West Virginia becomes the fourth state since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May to open for sports betting. Delaware was the first in mid-June, followed by New Jersey and Mississippi. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also have legal sports betting. Pennsylvania approved its temporary regulations earlier this month, and has yet to approve any sports betting licenses, while Rhode Island sportsbooks are expected to open for business later this fall.
The Hollywood Casino is a Penn National-owned casino/resort that is joining forces with William Hill to operate the fully regulated sports betting market under the auspices of the West Virginia Lottery.
The sportsbook will feature nine betting stations and dozens of wide-screen televisions. The race to open has been frenzied and exciting.
“I can’t tell you how many calls and questions I’ve gotten about the sportsbook, when it’s going to open,” Erich Zimny, vice president for racing and sporting operations at Hollywood, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail earlier this week. “It’s nice to have this amount of buzz and excitement going on.”
Among the games that will be available to bet on Saturday will be the state’s own No. 17-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (-10 at Tennessee) and Marshall (-2.5 at Miami of Ohio). Bettors will have an array of choices during a packed opening weekend, including the Notre Dame at Michigan game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Penn National is the nation’s largest regional casino operator. William Hill, now operating sportsbooks in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and throughout Nevada, will provide retail and mobile/online sports betting. Penn National will pay $100,000 for its West Virginia sports betting license, and the state will collect 10 percent of the adjusted gross receipts in taxes.
The WV Lottery Was Hoping WV Sports Betting Would Open at 5 Sites Simultaneously, But Only the Hollywood Casino Is Ready for College Football’s Opening Weekend.
Late last week, William Hill announced it would provide risk management for two sportsbooks operated through the Rhode Island Lottery by IGT when they open in November.
Across the state at The Greenbrier, the world-famous resort that is host to an annual PGA tournament and a former presidential bunker, FanDuel Group (now owned by Paddy Power/Betfair) will run the sportsbook. Sports betting will not begin at The Greenbrier or West Virginia’s other three casinos this weekend, but all are expected to open their sportsbooks later this fall.
The other three locations in the state are Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, a thoroughbred racetrack and casino resort north of New Cumberland; the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in suburban Charlestown, which includes a greyhound track; and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack (formerly Wheeling Downs), located on Wheeling Island in the middle of the Ohio River and a part of the city of Wheeling.
Initial information provided to SportsHandle indicates that Delaware North, a company with more than $3.2 billion in yearly revenue, is moving towards designing its own, new-to-the-market betting software and has hired several experienced Las Vegas bookmakers to provide the betting lines for the new operation.
At Mountaineer, there’s industry speculation that William Hill has the inside track to run the new sportsbook because the company already runs the book at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, and Eldorado Resorts owns both properties.