Reports Reveal Election Betting was Approved in West Virginia then Shutdown

In the United States, there is a shortage of gambling options due to the coronavirus outbreak. Players do not have access to casinos because venues are closed. Sports betting is virtually nonexistent because sports leagues have halted seasons. For gaming operators, time has been spent as of late working to find a solution for the shortfall. In West Virginia, several operators were reportedly approved to offer online political sports betting via the state Lottery. However, the option was short lived.

Green Light

In West Virginia, local media outlets are reporting that the West Virginia Lottery has provided approval for FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM to offer political betting. The Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer are said to have emails that support the approval.

The lottery reportedly gave FanDuel and BetMGM the approval on April 7th. These two offer services in the state thanks to a deal with the Greenbrier facility. DraftKings was also approved, operating in WV due to a deal with Hollywood Casino

Last week, FanDuel offered bets on the 2020 presidential election for the United States for a short time. However, the markers were removed after the Lottery told FanDuel to take them down. By April 8th, Governor Jim Justice spoke out on the betting option, calling it humorous and ridiculous.

The emails gathered by The Intelligencer sow the Hollywood Casino Vice President of Racing and Sports Operation, Erich Zimny, providing a plan for election wagering to the regulators. The email suggested that DraftKings wanted to offer political prop betting on major elections.

The email went on to say that they understand the Lottery wants to tread lightly on this type of betting and it would be a new area for everyone. However, with the struggle to have options for betting, the brand was looking for something that would draw interest of players.

In Europe and Canada, political betting is an accepted form of wagering. However, in the United States, both lawmakers and regulators tend to shy away from the option.

DraftKings wanted to offer wagers on the presidential election as well as winning political parties in each state and nationwide, voter turnout and other options.

On April 7th, an email was sent to Jake List, the Senior Manager of Sportsbook Operations for DraftKings, by the West Virginia Lottery Deputy Director of Security, David Bradley. The email discussed political wagering approval and certain restrictions such as no elections from the state.

A similar letter was sent to FanDuel from Bradley. Emails were reportedly sent from Bradley to FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings stating they could go ahead. Soon after the approval, FanDuel launched services.

Go Ahead, No Wait!

FanDuel wasted no time in launching the political betting wagers. However, at around two hours after going live, the wagers were gone. At this time, Bradley had reportedly sent emails to the betting brands involved, telling them that the Lottery was reconsidering their decision.

FanDuel released a statement that said the Lottery asked them to stop offering the markets until the implications had been worked through. The Director of the West Virginia Lottery John Myers took responsibility for the authorization and said it was clearly a mistake. State law prohibits such wagering from taking place and Myers ultimately realized that he does not have the authority to provide approvals for such wagering options.

Myers apologized for everyone affected by the decision and change.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.