Poker is a game that requires many skills, not the least of which is patience. Players can sit at tables for hours without getting a great hand, and if you want to win the World Series of Poker Main Event, you’ll find yourself playing 14 hours a day for over a week.
Poker players in West Virginia have certainly had their patience tested over the years. IN the booming days of online poker, players could access multiple sites with thousands of players online at any given time, and life was good. Sadly, it was all too good to be true, and the offshore-based poker sites were shut out of the U.S. in 2011. In the years since a handful of states have given players hope by regulating online poker at the state level. States like New Jersey and Delaware are now offering legal online poker to its residents, and many more states are starting to come around on the topic.
West Virginia seemed to be poised to be the next state to launch online poker when it passed comprehensive online gambling legislation in March 2019. However, since that time, there has been no movement and no sites have launched in the state. This has led to our team being inundated with questions from our readers. Since this page would have normally been used to review the sites available and to give tips and tricks for how to best use the legal West Virginia online poker sites, we thought it would make sense to answer some of the more common questions we have received.
Why is it taking so long to launch online poker in West Virginia?
That is the million-dollar question. The good news is that the bill that passed in West Virginia included provisions for licensing online poker sites (online casinos as well). However, the main focus of the bill, as it has been in many other states, is sports betting. The repeal of PASPA in May 2018 started an avalanche of legislation across the country, and West Virginia was definitely caught up in that excitement. Having said that, seeing that the law already states online poker is legal, we hope it won’t be too long until sites start to open their doors.
Who will be opening online poker sites?
The legislation that passed in 2019 allowed for 5 licenses to be awarded, one each to the land-based gaming facilities in the state. This means that the following groups can launch poker sites:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel
This doesn’t mean, however, that all five properties will open sites. The fact remains that online poker requires liquidity to be successful, so having five competing sites may, in fact, be bad for the overall ecosystem.
Will these poker sites be available all across the state?
Yes, the online poker sites will be accessible from anywhere in the state. They will be ringfenced geographically to the state borders, though, so if you are traveling outside West Virginia, you will not be able to access your account or the games themselves.
Will the online poker sites in West Virginia be available on mobile devices?
While this is the hope, as mobile devices are the preferred method of playing around the world these days, it will really depend on the providers that each of the operators selects for their games. States like Delaware do not currently offer mobile versions of their online poker games, whereas other states have had mobile as a focus from the beginning. The odds are that you will be able to download an app and play from your phone or tablet in West Virginia.
What types of games will be available when the sites launch?
Assuming that the sites launch with reputable partners, you should be able to access all forms of poker games with these operators. This would include tournaments, cash games, and sit and go’s. To start, there may not be the player base to sustain large guarantees or a huge selection of open tables, but as the sites mature, the offerings will as well. Expect the majority of the games to be Texas Hold’em as this is still far and away the most popular version of poker being played on the planet.
Will players in West Virginia be able to play against those in other states?
To help combat the liquidity issue in some of the other states that have legalized online poker, an agreement was reached to share pools of players between Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. Since that agreement was signed, other states have passed legislation. Pennsylvania has launched sites, and Michigan and West Virginia are amongst the states ready to go. It is expected that discussions will take place to expand the current arrangement so players can co-mingle with those in other states. For the time being, however, that agreement does not include residents of West Virginia.
How will payments work at these sites?
Payment processing for the offshore poker sites of the past was always a bit of a stress point for players. IN 2006 the government made it illegal for U.S. banks to process online gambling transactions, which forced many to find alternative, more costly solutions. Thankfully, the regulated gambling landscape that is emerging is giving players access to a multitude of payment options from credit and debit cards to actually walking into a casino and loading up your account in cash at the cage. Don’t fret – there will be all kinds of ways to get your money to and from these poker sites when they launch.
Are there still offshore sites open to West Virginia players?
When the Department of Justice seized the URLs of the big
poker sites like Poker Stars and Full Tile Poker back in 2011, it appeared as
though the entire U.S.-facing online poker industry was gone. However, the
closure did not reach far enough to stop some of the smaller poker sites from
operating. Today, there are a handful of sites still in operation, and these
Latin America-based companies are accepting players from West Virginia. With
the state on the precipice of having legal online poker sites for residents to
access, it seems foolish to send your money (with difficulty, we might add) to
one of these rogue operators. Stay patient, West Virginia poker lovers – your
time is coming, and when it does, you will have the peace of mind knowing you
are playing with a licensed, regulated operator. That way, you can focus on what
is important – waiting for your big hand to be dealt to you!