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West Virginia Reports May Handle Slide With Revenue Rise

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West Virginia Reports May Handle Slide With Revenue Rise
Charleston, West Virginia. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network/AFP

The West Virginia Lottery Commission is reporting a mixed bag with regard to their legal sports betting industry in May. While the state extended an expected late spring/summer handle slide, some solace was taken from the fact that revenues actually saw a respectable increase during the month.

While the summer months are typically characterized by a slowdown within the legal sports betting market across the US, regulators in West Virginia are hoping that a unique few months that include the extended NHL and NBA seasons plus the addition of the Olympics and Euro 2020 provide a spark to the overall betting scene. Otherwise, the industry will be stuck, waiting for the start of the NFL season September 9 before an expected rebound.

About Those May Numbers

West Virginia sportsbooks took in a reported $25.5 million in the month of May, which represents just a modest drop of $1.1 million, or 3.8% from the $26.5 million the industry generated in April. Year-over-year, the West Virginia market grew 412.6% from $4.97 million in May 2020, largely due to COVID-19 and its horrible effects on the West Virginia economy in May of 2020.

Now for some good news. West Virginia’s sports betting revenues spiked an impressive 37.7%, from the $1.95 million that sportsbook mad in April to the $2.7 million in profits reported in May. Those were certainly unexpected numbers. May’s profits also represent a 396% year-over-year spike from the $541,188 West Virginia sportsbook reported in May 2020.

Other Relevant Numbers

Perhaps the nicest surprise for the state of West Virginia was the contributions that sportsbooks made to needy state and local coffers from the unexpected spike in revenues. $228,485 in taxes was collected by state off of the profits in May. That’s up from $165,922 in April and bucked what was expected to be a trend of declines throughout the summer.

The West Virginia mobile scene continued to make up the bulk of the sports betting handle. But the percentage of taken in by mobile apps in the state still lags behind most of the Heavyweight-handle states that report about 90% of their monthly handles coming from internet wagering.

West Virginia’s mobile scene made up 72.1% of the state’s overall May sports betting handle, or $18.4 million of the $25.5 million overall handle. That number is down 7.3% from the $19.8 million reported in April but up 269.7% from May 2020’s $4.97 million mobile take.

Relative Success?

Despite a small drop in handle for the second month in a row, West Virginia’s sports betting overall numbers in May have to be considered a relative success, considering it is the start of the traditional slow time for the industry. It is hard to ignore the spike in revenues.

Plus, a healthy rise in West Virginia’s iGaming scene has led to regulators in the state sharing a sense of optimism about their legal gambling platforms going forward. The iGaming handle in West Virginia increased 16.7% to $138.2 million in May with revenues seeing a 14% uptick from $3.8 in April to $4.3 million in May.

So, while doom-and-gloom was expected for the West Virginia legal sports betting industry in May, hopes are that the glimmer of good news will be a sign of things to come for the broader US sports wagering scene.

While a large bounce back is not expected until September, hopes for the industry are that a full menu of elite sporting events during the summer and a potential post-COVID “return to normal” can at least mitigate the expected summer legal sports betting slowdown