West Virginia Sports Betting Fiasco Leaves Players Hanging

One of the major upsides of legal sports betting as they’ve done in Nevada for years is security. If you have an outstanding ticket from the MGM Grand you can get up in the morning, drive over to the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana and be confident that you can walk into the sportsbook and get paid. If you come at an off hour and there’s no one at the sportsbook you can walk over to the casino cage and they’ll honor the ticket.

This is one of the paramount responsibilities of any bookmaking business. Unfortunately, an unfolding situation in West Virginia is underscoring the utter stupidity of letting rank amateurs run a bookmaking operation. Here’s the story: two West Virginia casinos have ‘suspended retail and online sports betting operations’ because of a supposed issue with their platform provider. Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos–both operated by Delaware North–have for the moment at least pulled the plug.

Here’s a statement from Delaware North provided to the excellent website Legal Sports Report. Is it just me, or does sound like an excuse taken right out of the playbook of a fly by night scam operation in the early days of online betting:

“We have been informed by Miomni Gaming, our sports wagering platform provider in West Virginia, that they have encountered a contract dispute with a third-party technology supplier. This has resulted in the interruption of the Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras sports-betting operations as well as the BetLucky.com mobile app from accepting new sports wagers. We are honoring and redeeming all resulted bets and are working to determine a time frame for restoration. We apologize for this interruption in service.”

It’s a plausible story but its one that shouldn’t happen. This is a problem that occurs when a burdensome regulatory system and too little competition stifle the autonomy of sports book operators. What should happen is that if the ‘third party technology supplier’ can’t be brought on board is that other companies providing the same service–and believe me, they’re out there–take their place. Of course the problem starts at the top–sports betting oversight in West Virginia is provided by the state lottery commission which has no business whatsoever running it. For that matter, they have no business running casino gambling in the state and they do that too.

For now, the ‘BetLucky.com’ website operated jointly by Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras is the only option in the state for bettors. Other brands including DraftKings, FanDuel and William Hill are expected to join the fray soon.

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on gambling theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice.