Fanatics Casino launched in West Virginia on Nov. 16. Starting a West Virginia online casino site as an operator’s US debut is unusual, with most legal online gambling site introductions happening via Michigan or New Jersey.
The Mountain State is one of the smaller revenue-generating online casino jurisdictions. It saw $12.7 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) during September 2023, while Michigan was just behind Pennsylvania. The Wolverine State’s $166.4 million was usurped by the Keystone State’s $187.3 million. New Jersey’s GGR was No. 3, at $163.8 million.
Today’s news from Fanatics Betting and Gaming (FBG) has been expected since August, minus the choice of debut state. Because that’s when Fanatics Holdings bought the US businesses of PointsBet Holdings Limited (PointsBet Holdings Limited 0,38 0,00%).
In today’s announcement about the Fanatics Casino launch, FBG noted that the iGaming product is embedded in the Fanatics Sportsbook app. That app also came online in West Virginia today.
FBG said of Fanatics Casino today:
The newly designed casino product will feature a range of classic and popular casino favorites like roulette, slots, and blackjack, along with the new Fanatics Blackjack game, exclusive to Fanatics Sportsbook players. More online casino games and features will follow in the near future.
In other words, today’s announcement is about a different product rather than just a rebranding. On Aug. 31, FBG rebranded the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia PointsBet apps to “PointsBet, a Fanatics Experience.”
Relatedly, FBG’s statement today said bettors would need to download Fanatics Sportsbook, but everything from the previous app will transfer:
Log in using the same email address and password used on PointsBet and any open bets and the balance from your PointsBet account will be available in your new Fanatics Sportsbook account.
About three hours after the announcement, Google Play showed more than 50,000 Fanatics Sportsbook app downloads. The Apple App Store rated Fanatics Sportsbook No. 37 in “sports.” That ranking came two days after ESPN Bet launched in 17 states and was No. 1 on the “free app” chart, but had a fifth of the Android downloads.
Why West Virginia Online Casino?
Bonus asked a Fanatics spokesman today why the sports etailer with a legal online gambling subsidiary decided to launch first in West Virginia.
Kevin Hennessy, vice president of communications at Fanatics, told Bonus today:
They have Casino and Sportsbook and an active PointsBet customer base.
The first bet on Casino was $5 on our Fanatics Blackjack game from a customer that was migrated over from PointsBet.
The Fanatics Blackjack game is pictured at the right.
Notably, the screen grab provided by FBG shows a “live dealer” icon.
PointsBet had been receiving live streams from Evolution‘s Pennsylvania studio. It appears as though that may continue.
Meanwhile, another plus for West Virginia may have been that FBG may have had an easier path through its regulators vs. its experiences in other states.
For instance, that faster path didn’t happen in New York.
That’s the No. 1 sports betting revenue state.
There, FBG only received approval for a license transfer of PointsBet Sportsbook to Fanatics on Oct. 3.
That’s because the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) had looked “closely” at Fanatics’ marketing and advertising approaches first.
West Virginia’s Busy Month of Gambling Expansion
Fanatics Casino launches at a busy time for West Virginia gamblers.
On Tuesday, the state entered the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). That may make West Virginia more appealing to online poker operators, who haven’t yet located in the state.
In October, West Virginians also discovered they would soon have an iLottery.