West Virginia Poker / Gambling Laws

West Viriginia Gambling Laws
Is It Legal to Play Poker in West Virginia?

West Virginia is bordered by five different states, and it's safe to say that online poker is popular in all of them. Gambling has exploded in the Northeast region of the United States over the last decade, and online poker has definitely tagged along for the ride. Even as talk continues of regulated poker backed by major U.S. casinos, poker players in West Virginia and beyond are turning to international sites that can provide them with real-money poker games right now. Those rooms, how to access them and the overall relationship between the state and gambling make up the majority of our Guide to West Virginia Online Poker.

Online Poker in West Virginia

West Virginia's Top Online Poker Rooms

Whether you're a student at West Virginia University or a resident of historic Wheeling, you're probably looking for the same basic things from an online poker room: security, credibility and value. Those are the three aspects we gave the most weight when developing this list of the poker rooms for West Virginia - a list that we regularly update to keep pace with the ever-changing world of online poker:

Is It Easy to Play Online Poker From West Virginia?

We can't guarantee that every bluff you run online will be a successful one, but we can guarantee that getting online, creating an account and then depositing into that account will be a pretty smooth process for poker players in West Virginia. The most popular online poker deposit method for West Virginians: major credit cards, followed by money transfer services.

Is Playing Online Poker Legal in West Virginia?

The starting point for an answer to that question is West Virginia gambling law. In this section we're going to highlight some of the most critical points of the law and assemble them in a simple list. Following that list you'll find links to more resources that will give you the tools you need to understand where online poker stands in the state.

  • West Virginia law is especially confounding because the state does not provide a specific definition of what it means to gamble or bet. There are a number of charges related to gambling, but none provide complete clarity regarding what activity is and is not allowed in West Virginia.
  • For example, Section 61-10-1 lays out a list of prohibited activity: "a gaming table, commonly called A.B.C. or E.O. table, or faro bank, or keno table, or any slot machine, multiple coin console machine, multiple coin console slot machine or device in the nature of a slot machine, or any other gaming table or device of like kind, under any denomination, or which has no name, whether the game, table, bank, machine or device be played with cards, dice or otherwise."
  • Section 61-10-5 outlaws "Betting on games of chance; furnishing money or thing of value therefor," but never defines what a "game of chance" is.
  • The charge of "Playing or betting at gaming tables and devices; playing or betting on games at hotels and public places" (Section 61-10-4) lists a set of games that are exempt from the charge, including "bowls, chess or backgammon, draughts or a licensed game."
  • West Virginia gambling law does not make any obvious exception for social or private gambling.  Gambling conducted in public may bring additional charges, but gambling in the home remains technically illegal in the state.
  • It is a misdemeanor offense in West Virginia to cheat at gambling, apparently regardless of whether the gambling activity in question is legal or not (Section 61-10-9).

Read more with this searchable, full-text version of the West Virginia statutes [1].

West Virginia's Plans to Regulate Online Poker

While there has been little in the way of public political support for online gambling or poker regulation in West Virginia, it does appear that the wheels are turning behind the scenes. West Virginia has been repeatedly mentioned as a potential poker partner by Delaware officials. The state is also caught in an ever-escalating gambling arms race with neighbors such as Maryland and Pennsylvania, increasing the chances that West Virginia acts fast on online poker regulation to avoid playing catch-up to those states or other competitors.

West Virginia Gambling Facts

List of the Regulated Gambling Options in West Virginia

West Virginians (and visitors to the state) have a multitude of choices when it comes to regulated gambling. The state offers a lottery that serves up the old-style tickets and drawings along with decidedly more modern video lottery terminals. Resort casinos are permitted in the state's borders, and racetracks in West Virginia feature not only pari-mutuel betting but a variety of casino games as well.

The list of regulated gambling opportunities in West Virginia is rounded out by charitable gambling. Organizations that meet the state's criteria and hold a proper license can run bingo events.

List of Regulated Online Gambling Options in West Virginia

There is an excellent chance that you'll see online gambling sites licensed by the state of West Virginia within the next few years. As for now, West Virginia is still on the sidelines of the online gambling game, offering no forms of online gambling directly overseen or approved by the state.

Recent West Virginia Gambling Headlines

Talk in the local media has been dominated by Maryland's recent decision to expand gambling [2], a move that has potentially significant implications [3] for West Virginia. We expect the focus for much of 2013 to remain on West Virginia's impending need to shore up state revenue from gambling as other states in the region continue to offer competing products.

West Virginia Gambling Resources

West Virginia Lottery [4]. Official site for the state lottery of West Virginia. Learn more about the state's unique form of video lottery, get lottery data and information about where funds from the lottery go.

UNLV Center for Gaming Research [5]. The abstract for West Virginia from the UNLV CGR provides an excellent snapshot of regulated gaming in the state. You'll find a brief history, aggregate data since 1995 and a synopsis of the major regulated gambling options in West Virginia.

West Virginia Department of Commerce - Gaming [6]. An all-in-one guide to the regulated gambling attractions of the state from the West Virginia DoC.

Sources & Citations For This Article on West Virginia Online Poker