Live Dealer Launches in West Virginia: BetRivers, DraftKings Offerings Already Online

West Virginians noticed something new in their online casino apps during the past fortnight. Two weeks ago, BetRivers Casino added live dealer games. DraftKings Casino added them today.

That means that West Virginia online casinos are joining those in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in offering real-time table games with human dealers for its online casino players. A Connecticut live dealer studio launch is pending regulator approval.

Meanwhile, Chicago-headquartered BetRivers and Boston-based DraftKings each say that their live dealer products are different from those of other online gambling operators.

BetRivers, a Rush Street Interactive (RSI) brand, says its distinguishing characteristic is being first-to-market. The online casino operator launched its live dealer product on June 10.

DraftKings says its primary live dealer brand differentiation is its multiplayer, interactive game DraftKings Rocket.

Sign up for DraftKings today to try live dealer casino games, and Rocket!

UPDATE: 07/11/2022

BetMGM launched the state’s first branded live dealer table on June 29. The blackjack table’s felt bears the brand’s name and only BetMGM Casino‘s customers can “sit” and play there.

Additionally, the West Virginia online casino market leader (39% of gross gaming revenue) is offering other live dealer games through its partnership with Evolution:

  • Roulette
  • Auto Roulette
  • Lightning Roulette
  • Infinite Blackjack
  • Speed Baccarat
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Three Card Poker

About Live Dealer Games

As Bonus.com points out, perhaps the main difference between retail casino dealers and online casino live dealers is the croupiers can’t see the gamblers. Players also can’t see each other.

This may sound obvious, but it may concern some online gamblers.

Meanwhile, online casino players can use live chat options to “talk” to the dealer.

Online gamblers in the three big online casino states are already familiar with the products. They’ve been live in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for a couple of years. Michigan just launched live dealer games on July 22, 2021.

When US online casino states begin offering live dealer games, they start with all operators using the same group of dealers provided by the approved vendor. In West Virginia so far, Malta-based Evolution is operating the only live dealer studio.

Most US online gambling operators contract with Evolution for their live dealer games. Some use Isle of Man-headquartered Playtech for that service.

As time passes, states may allow Evolution to offer branded live dealer studios. Jersey City, NJ-based BetMGM has branded studios in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

BetRivers and DraftKings also have branded options in states outside of West Virginia.

Cross-Border Live Dealer Streaming

West Virginia’s live dealer launch is unique in one way.

Other states require the live dealer studios to be located in the state where online casino gamblers will be playing. However, West Virginian online casinos are currently using a live dealer feed originating from Evolution’s studio in Pennsylvania.

Connecticut’s rules for online casinos allowed them a window of opportunity to do the same. However, that grace period expired before either of the two operators in the state took advantage of it.

One interesting implication here is that it looks like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is getting comfortable with the idea that the Wire Act battle is truly over.

According to the Department of Justice’s interpretation of that law, such interstate streaming would be illegal. The First Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

If the PGCB is indeed coming around on the issue, then that’s a good sign for online poker. The ability for states to enter multi-state poker agreements was one of the major things at risk under the DOJ’s opinion.

DraftKings Casino Live Dealer

The first games DraftKings mentions in its announcement today about its West Virginia live dealer product launch are fan favorites: roulette, baccarat, and infinite blackjack.

DraftKings quickly pivots to talking about one of its most popular games:

Built entirely in-house, DraftKings Rocket is a game of instinct that delivers real-money potential payouts within a shared multiplayer and interactive interface, which is unlike any other game on DraftKings Casino to date and another exciting game that can only be found exclusively on DraftKings.

The DraftKings Casino game first launched in New Jersey in September 2021.

As Bonus.com‘s Alex Weldon reported at Online Poker Report, which he was managing at the time:

Rocket … is the first non-slots product developed by DraftKings that isn’t directly inspired by a traditional casino game. … It is a clone of a game that’s become popular at certain unregulated online casinos.

How DraftKings Rocket Works

Weldon summarized why Rocket would appeal to online casino players who tend to gravitate to traditional games.

It’s simple, he said. Multiple players bet on the same game.

Weldon elaborated:

Players choose their wager as they would any other game, then wait for the next round to begin. They watch as a rocket takes off and begins to sail upwards, with an ever-increasing multiplier. A player can choose to bail out at any time, receiving the amount of their wager times the multiplier. However, the rocket can explode at any moment, with any players still aboard losing their bets.

If the rocket reaches a 1000x multiplier, the game ends and any players still aboard will receive that maximum payout. The maximum bet is $1000, so in principle players have the opportunity to win up to $1 million.

Players needn’t worry about not being fast enough to cash out at the time of their choosing. The game provides the option to set one’s own maximum multiplier, and to cash out automatically at that point. Those using this option can still manually cash out earlier. They can also set the game to auto-bet on multiple consecutive launches, to avoid the risk of missing one.

Players also see the point at which other users bailed out, adding a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition. The rocket continues to fly until it crashes, even once all players have bailed, so everyone can see what they could have won if they’d stayed aboard.

BetRivers Added Live Dealer, Sportsbook

On June 10, RSI announced BetRivers Casino WV was the first to launch live dealer games in the Mountain State. Additionally, BetRivers Sportsbook began taking bets the week before.

RSI partners with Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort for online casino and sports betting. BetRivers Casino launched in April 2021.

As for the live dealer games, RSI says these are the ones available on the BetRivers Android app:

  • Low- and high-stakes Blackjack games (including side bets such as 21 +3)
  • Lightning Roulette
  • Baccarat
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Three Card Poker

RSI CEO Richard Schwartz said on June 10:

Many players prefer live dealer options because they watch it happen live, which gives them a higher level of trust in the outcome.

Bonus.com took a look at which live dealer games may become the most popular ones for BetRivers and DraftKings in West Virginia.

BetRivers Casino in Pennsylvania lists live blackjack first, then roulette. DraftKings lists its branded live dealer studio first, then its branded studio baccarat games.

West Virginians will have to wait on regulator approval before branded live dealer games can launch there.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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