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The Good and the Not-So-Bad From West Virginia’s May Sports Betting Figures

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The Good and the Not-So-Bad From West Virginia’s May Sports Betting Figures
Betting lines. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

The May numbers for the US legal sports betting industry are starting to trickle in and if West Virginia’s figures are a sign of things to come, it may not be such a bad summer after all for the industry. The West Virginia Lottery Commission is out with its May sports betting figures, and they reflect a modest decline in the state’s overall handle and an unforeseen spike in the profits taken in by the state’s sportsbooks.

West Virginia, not unlike most participating US legal sports betting states is mostly reliant upon the NFL or big sporting events such as March Madness to carry their legal sports betting scene. While we will have to wait on those, the prospect of a later end to the NBA and NHL playoffs, the impending Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the Euro 2020 soccer tournament have given birth to a sense of optimism that a major summer sports betting slump may not be as drastic as many predict.

May’s Mixed Results

There was good news and some bad news from The West Virginia Lottery Commission report on its May sports betting figures. First the bad, which aren’t as bad as some thought they’d be. The overall West Virginia legal sports betting handle fell a modest 3.8% or $1.1 from April to May. Sportsbooks in the state reported a $25.5 million handle last month, a slight dip from the $26.5 million in April.

The good news comes in the form of an impressive spike in the state’s sports betting revenues. Sportsbooks in West Virginia made an eye-opening $2.7 million in May – a 37.7% spike from the $1.95 million they made in April.

Thanks to the unforeseen rise in profits, there came an increase in the amount of tax dollars siphoned off for needy state and local coffers. West Virginia sportsbooks paid $228,485 in taxes in May which is a huge increase from the $165,922 they paid in April.

Mobile Take

West Virginia’s mobile sports betting apps continued to be the story of the overall legal sports betting handle for the state, although there is still room for improvement on that front. The top mobile sports betting states in the country report anywhere from 80%-90% of their handles coming from internet-based bets with West Virginia coming in far below that number.

When all was added up, West Virginia’s mobile sports betting scene was responsible for $18.4 million of the state’s $25.5 million overall handle, or 72.1%. That number represents a drop of 7.3% from the $19.8 million that mobile apps in the state generated in April.

Year-Over-Year Spike

The West Virginia Lottery Commission’s May report revealed just how far the sports betting industry in the state has come in one year. Keep in mind that May 2020 saw the state and the world for that matter smack in the middle of the coronavirus crisis that decimated global economies, shuttered casinos and forced the postponement of a host of sporting events across the globe.

West Virginia’s May 2021 handle was up an astounding 412.6% from $4.97 million sportsbooks generated in May 2020, revenues climbed 396% from the $541,188 in profits reported last year at this time and the mobile handle was up 269.7% from May 2020’s $4.97 million.

Looking at the Bright Side

The legal sports betting scene in West Virginia was expected to have another horrible month in May but horrible didn’t materialize. Sure, the handle was down but it could have been much worse, leading some to say that May was actually a successful legal sports betting month.

West Virginia’s iGaming sector helped the state at least mitigate some of the potential handle downturn. iGaming alone generated $138.2 million in May, which represents a 16.7% increase form April. Revenues from iGaming grew 14% – from $3.8 million in April to $4.3 million in May.

The sports betting handle slump in West Virginia was extended with May being the second straight month of handle declines. Looking at the bright side, the revenues far-exceeded expectations for the platform, the world is digging out of the COVID-19 hole faster than most thought and the betting menus will be full this summer.

So, while West Virginia sportsbooks are still forced to wait until the start of the NFL season before a real turnaround will be seen, hopes are that this summer may not be as bad for the industry as predicted.