West Virginia Online Poker Launches Date

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West Virginia legalized online poker and casino sites on March 28, becoming the fifth U.S. state to regulate online gambling. Since then, questions arose about the likely rollout date for West Virginia online poker.

State Delegate Shawn Fluharty holds out hope state officials might launch elements of online gambling by the end of 2019. Fluharty championed the iGaming bill in the House of Delegates, so no state representative knows more about the process.

Recently, Shawn Fluharty told PlayWV.com, “I fully expect it to be up and running and hopefully we don’t have the issues with it that we did with sports betting.”

West Virginia Lottery Director John Myers targeted February 2021 as the natural time when online gambling launches. The WV Lottery will oversee the online gambling rollout, so John Meyers’ estimate could be more accurate than Fluharty’s.

New Jersey Online Poker: 271 Days

It’s a wide range of possibilities, so a comparison to the other states which approved online poker is instructive. Gaming observers consider New Jersey to be the model among the US online gambling sector, so we’ll start with the Garden State.

New Jersey took 271 days from the passage of its online gambling law in 2013 to the launch date. The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) processed license applications for online poker and online casinos, but both types of gaming sites began business in November 2013.

Issues with New Jersey Online Poker

In retrospect, New Jersey’s quick launch time might have overlooked key issues. In June 2013, PokerStars signed a partnership deal with Morris Bailey’s Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. Weeks before launch, though, PokerStars continuing issuesd with the U.S. Department of Justice over Black Friday caused the DGE to shelve PokerStars’ launch.

It took over nearly two years for PokerStars to launch (August 2015), so full implementation took a long time. Also, the first few months of New Jersey online gaming were fraught with geo-location issues and credit cards payments proved troublesome, so the quick launch date passed over technical issues.

Of course, New Jersey was the first to try wide scale online gambling in the United States. Technical issues were bound to happen, and operators solved the geo-fencing issue within months. West Virginia builds on the back of those efforts, allowing it to avoid many of those issues.

Delaware Online Poker: 510 Days

Delaware was the first state to legalize online poker and casino gaming in 2013. While approval happened months before New Jersey’s General Assembly passed a bill, Delaware’s licensing and launch phase took almost half a year longer.

The time period augured the future of Delaware online poker. The Delaware legislature and court system are a model of efficiency. Most corporate law takes place in Delaware courts, while 60% of US corporations incorporate in Delaware. The state’s leaders know the law, so quick processes are common.

At the same time, Delaware’s small population consigned the state’s online poker niche to obscurity. The state’s leaders sought an interstate poker compact with Nevada and later with New Jersey, but the Multi-State Internet Gambling Association never reached its full potential. The US DOJ’s new opinion on the Wire Act assures it might never reach that potential.

Still, the 510 days it took for Delaware to launch online poker represents a median expectation among US states. Somewhere between a full year and seventeen months seems reasonable.

Pennsylvania Online Poker: 520

When Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry launched on July 15, the length between passage and rollout will be 520 days. That’s a long time since the October 2017 signing of the online gambling bill by Gov. Tom Wolf. Gaming analysts criticized the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for the lenght of time it took.

At the same time, it’s very much in keeping with Delaware. The fact West Virginia’s neighbors took between 510 to 520 days to launch iPoker indicates West Virginia might. Often, regulators from one state consult with other US states on such an issue. Given that fact, John Meyers prediction of February 2021 sounds like a good estimate.

Nevada Online Poker: 68 Days

At the low end of the spectrum is Nevada, which took only 68 days to launch online poker after the state legislature approved iPoker. Kudos to former Gov. Brian Sandoval, who signed the MSIGA with Delaware, for the quick implementation.

Nevada had several advantages. First, no state is more familiar with gambling implementation than Nevada. The state’s economy owes a lot to its gambling industry, so it tends to execute gaming laws quickly.

Second, Nevada approved only online poker. Without the need to vet and soft launch a bunch of online casino and mobile casino sites, Nevada could focus on one task.

Third, most Nevada casino operators paid little attention to online poker. Though Nevada has over 180 land-based gaming venues, only two launched online poker sites at the time. Land-based casinos invest a ton of money in attracting tourists, and they were never likely to spend cash launching online poker sites. Like Delaware, the domestic population is small and not likely to support online cardrooms.

In the end, West Virginia’s online poker industry can take a cue either from Pennsylvania or Delaware. Del. Shawn Fluharty wants to follow the New Jersey model, but Lottery Director John Myers prefers the Delaware template. Given the fact John Meyers is the regulator in charge, expect West Virginia to launch online poker in February 2021.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for more than a decade. He worked for Small World Marketing for years, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. He's covered US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com since 2014.


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