West Virginia Casinos and Gambling
Gambling in West Virginia may take a backseat in the minds of most Americans to mountains and coal mining, but that doesn’t mean that the state is lacking when it comes to games of chance. In fact, their laws allow for charitable gaming, pari-mutuel betting, lotteries, racetracks, and commercial casinos.
Whether you’re a lifelong resident or find yourself driving through this picturesque state, our guide to West Virginia casinos and other forms of gambling should provide you with a clear idea of which types of betting can be legally enjoyed. The less time you spend worrying about the local authorities, the more time you can devote to wagering your hard-earned money.
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West Virginia Gambling Laws
Unlike some states, West Virginia is frighteningly clear about the various punishments awaiting those who are deemed guilty of illegal gambling activities. If you plan on breaking the law in this regard, here are some of the various criminal charges and punishments to look forward to:
• Keeping an illegal keno table, faro table, or slot machine is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty between two and 12 months in jail and a fine ranging from $100 to $1000.
• Illegally permitting a gaming table or device on your premises is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine between $100 and $1000.
• Acting as a doorkeeper or guard for someone who keeps or exhibits illegal casino games is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1000.
• Playing or betting at an illegal gaming facility is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty up to three months in county jail and a fine between $5 and $100.
• Illegally betting on a game of chance is a misdemeanor that can result in jail time between 10 and 30 days, as well as a fine between $5 and $300.
• Permitting unlawful gaming at a hotel or outhouse is a misdemeanor that can result in up to four months in the country jail, as well as a fine ranging from $20 to $100.
• Cheating at gaming is a misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence up to a year and a fine equal to at least 5x the value of the money won through cheating.
• Setting up or promoting an illegal lottery is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
• Allowing a building or room to be used for the purposes of an illegal numbers game, or profiting for such activity in any way, is considered a felony. This crime can carry a prison sentence between one and five years, or the offender may be sentenced to jail from six to 12 months and fined from $200 to $1000. A second offense carries a penitentiary term between two and 10 years.
Owning a Slot Machine in West Virginia
Due to West Virginia Code 61-10-1, any private citizen throughout the state can own a slot machine without fear of fine or prosecution. While it’s common for states to restrict ownership to machines that are a minimum of 25 years old, there are no such limitations in the Mountain State. This ruling applies to all forms of slots, whether they’re traditional Vegas-style slots or the Class II games often found at tribal gaming facilities.
Horse and Dog Racing in West Virginia
If you like to wager on the dogs or ponies, you’ll find several opportunities to do so in West Virginia. In addition to several off-track betting facilities scattered about the state, gamblers can also attend live racing events throughout the year. Thanks to the creation of “racinos,” many of these facilities also include slots or have expanded into full-fledge casinos.
Here are the most notable examples:
• Wheeling Island Casino Racetrack
• Mountaineer Casino Racetrack
• Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
• Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
• Casino Club at The Greenbrier
West Virginia Casinos
Since dog and horse racing is a major draw in West Virginia, all of the casinos throughout the state are either located at or near racetracks or offer simulcast wagering on such events. In addition to this option, fans of more traditional casino games can enjoy the following:
• Slot Machines
• Video Poker
• Spanish 21
• Poker (including Pai Gow Poker, Texas Hold’em, Let it Ride, 3-Card Poker, 7 Card Stud, 4-Card Poker, Big 6, Omaha, Double Draw, Mississippi Stud, Criss Cross)
Online Gambling in West Virginia
The state does not specifically prohibit gambling over the Internet. This means anyone who prefers the convenience of online poker or slots can do so without having to worry about coming into conflict with local laws. However, this doesn’t mean that all gaming sites are available, as some providers continue to refuse all American players following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
West Virginia State Lottery
The West Virginia state lottery has been in operation since the 1980s, and they’re a charter member of the Multi-State Lottery Association. Customers must be at least 18 years old in order to buy a ticket or scratch-off card.
The following are among the most popular options:
• Daily 3 – Select three numbers on your lottery slip and win up to $500 for getting matches.
• Daily 4 – Select four numbers on your lottery slip and win up to $5000.
• Cash 25 – Four drawings are held during the week with a top prize of $25,000.
• Powerball – Multi-state game with a beginning jackpot of $20 million.
• Mega Millions – Multi-lottery game sold in states across the nation.
• MegaHits – Video lottery terminals offering five progressive jackpots.
• Hot Lotto – Jackpot begins at $1 million.
While you won’t find any tribal casinos in the state, West Virginia has an array of commercial gaming facilities and racetracks to meet the needs of gamblers. The lottery conducts drawings throughout the week, and online gambling is also available without any local restrictions. For those looking to enjoy casino gaming in the United States, this state offers a solid selection for residents and tourists alike.