With the kickoff of NFL season less than three weeks away — Green Bay plays at Chicago in a Thursday night game on Sept. 5 before the season starts in earnest on Sept. 8 — there’s been little news out of Rhode Island or West Virginia, states where mobile sports betting is legal but mobile operations are not currently live.
As the Oregon Lottery prepares to launch its sports betting app, “Scorecard,” and as at least two Indiana properties prepare to launch on Sept. 1, West Virginians are getting restless due to a lack of both information and forward progress as other in other states. Meanwhile, Rhode Island Lottery officials are still eyeing a slightly delayed football season mobile launch.
Here’s a look at what’s going on in both places.
Retail sports betting to go live at Ameristar Casino East Chicago (Indiana) on 9/1, pending regulatory approvals.
Penn National property, so it will be a Kambi-run book (tech, risk-mgmt) based on current agreements.
First bets? Bears legends in Mike Ditka + Devin Hester. pic.twitter.com/4ehIyB3y5D
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 19, 2019
Since a dispute between Delaware North and management services provider Miomni shuttered the only then-live mobile sports betting app “BetLucky” in March, and a June press release pointing to compliance issues around the Wire Act as a reason for delaying DraftKings’ mobile launch, nothing much appears to have changed in West Virginia. But people aren’t happy.
Representative Shawn Fluharty, a key sports betting legislation sponsor, has been vocal in his frustration about the delay in the mobile app, including this recent comment on Twitter:
— Shawn Fluharty (@WVUFLU) August 15, 2019
An inquiry to the West Virginia Lottery earlier this week by Sports Handle went unanswered.
A little background — two Delaware North Casinos and the BetLucky.com app were shut down in March following a dispute with Miomni. It’s not clear whether or not Delaware North has settled on a replacement to run its sportsbooks, but the BetLucky.com site still shows a message saying it is not accepting new customers, deposits or wagers, and the Wheeling Island sportsbook page contains an old message explaining that the book has been closed and apologizing to customers. There is no longer a sportsbook page available on the Mardi Gras Casino site. According to a spokesman for Delaware North, the company is still looking for a technology partner.
DraftKings is among the mobile operators waiting for the go-ahead in West Virginia. DraftKings did not return an inquiry to Sports Handle about the status of its app.
So, it’s continue to wait and see in the Mountaineer State, which in March 2018, in advance of the Supreme Court’s ruling on PASPA, became the first of several states in 2018 to legalize and/or license operators to begin taking legal wagers.
Rhode Island’s Joint Committee on the Lottery has a meeting during which they’ll likely discuss the status of the mobile app scheduled for Aug. 26. The meeting was initially set for Aug. 19, but was postponed. State lawmakers legalized mobile sports betting in March, with in-person account registration required at the state’s two casinos.
William Hill and IGT are partners on the physical sportsbooks and will also work together on the mobile side. During the legislative process, the Lottery indicated it could launch mobile within six months.
William Hill had initially targeted Aug. 26 as its mobile launch date, but a Lottery spokesperson said the goal is for mobile sports betting to go live in September. Before that can happen, the Lottery will have a test period by its independent lab partner, GLI, which could last up to four weeks. It’s unclear if the app will go directly to public launch when that testing is completed, or if there will be a short soft launch, similar to those in Pennsylvania, where select bettors are invited to try apps ahead of the general public.
Twin River Management Group, which owns and operates both the Twin River and Tiverton casinos, has a sports betting website, sportsbetri.com, already live, but it’s just a placeholder.
Rhode Island remains the only New England state with live, legal sports betting, though New Hampshire legalized over the summer and is currently in the RFP process with potential vendors. The difference between the two states is that while Rhode Island will essentially have only one mobile app, New Hampshire will have up to five, as well as 10 physical locations.