The House Bill made online poker in West Virginia state legal and, thus, opened the door to new possibilities. Although many nuances are still being worked out, this means cash games, tournaments, bonuses, and more poker fun is coming. In this guide, we’ll explain that state of play as it is right now (2021). Plus, the sites expected to launch, and how the system works. Because primarily, you should know the important West Virginia online poker laws, and which West Virginia poker rooms are safe. So, if you’re ready to get started, let’s take a look at WV poker and everything it has to offer.
Poker in West Virginia stalled in 2020 due, in part, to COVID-19. At the time of writing, no operators had received a license. This will change but when is unclear. 2021 has been touted as the new launch date but this isn’t set in stone. We’d expect things to be moving by that time because it will have been two years since West Virginia’s poker law was passed. But, again, COVID-19 did slow down progress in 2020. Therefore, 2021 is a fair estimate as to when the first WV sites will go live.
The 2019 WV Lottery Interactive Wagering Act made online poker in West Virginia legal. At the time of writing, WV sites were still getting their affairs in order. The delay is due, in part, to COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020 - 2021. However, when life returns to normal, you can expect to see some of the world’s leading poker brands enter the state.
Indeed, we already know that PokerStars, WSOP.com, and partypoker are poised to go live in West Virginia. Things can always change but these operators are the prime candidates to receive a WV license. What we don’t know, however, is whether liquidity sharing will be possible. The Department of Justice (DOJ) flip-flopped on its interpretation of the Wire Act in 2019.
It previously offered the opinion that cross-state wire communications were only prohibited with regards to sports betting. However, in 2019, it reversed its position and said other forms of gambling were prohibited by the Wire Act. This didn’t invalidate any preexisting liquidity sharing pacts. However, it has left states like West Virginia in limbo.
Once further clarification has been established, don’t be surprised to see West Virginia poker sites share players with their counterparts in other states. However, during the initial launch at least, this won’t be possible.
WSOP.com has the potential to become the top destination for poker tournaments in West Virginia. As the online platform for the World Series of Poker, WSOP.com has the ability to host virtual bracelet events. In fact, over the last few years, it’s done just that in New Jersey and Nevada. Without liquidity sharing agreements in place, this might not be possible. However, in time, there will almost certainly be a WSOP bracelet or WSOP Circuit rings up for grabs on WSOP.com WV.
Aside from MTTs, you can expect a solid poker site that’s filled with cash games, regular tournaments, and sit & gos. Because WSOP.com is linked to 888Poker, you’re basically getting the mass-market appeal of the world’s leading tournament organization. And more than 15 years’ worth of industry experience courtesy of 888. In tandem, this means WSOP.com West Virginia has all the ingredients required to become a top operator in the state.
Of all the brands set to enter the West VA online poker market, PokerStars has to be the biggest. Although its rivals are no slouches, PokerStars boasts the busiest poker network in the world. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to join its international playerpool from inside West Virginia. However, what you will be able to access is an online poker site that literally stands on the shoulders of giants.
PokerStars West Virginia will draw inspiration from its overseas counterparts. This means you’ll be able to play daily and weekly MTTs with prizepools topping $100,000. You’ll also be able to enjoy a smorgasbord of cash games across multiple variants, including Hold’em and Omaha. There will also be annual tournament festivals for good measure. Plus in-house fast-fold games (Zoom), and lottery-style sit & go tournaments (Spin & Go) with prizes rolling over $10,000!
partypoker was there when online poker started back in the early noughties and it’s still among the leading brands in the business. Although its popularity took a dip between 2010 and 2017, it’s risen back to prominence in recent years. This has happened largely with the help of its parent company, GVC Holdings, and a wealth of innovations.
The foundations of the site are still cash games and MTTs. If and when partypoker joins the roster of licensed West Virginia poker sites, you’ll find Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, and Draw cash games. You’ll also be able to play fast-fold (Fast Forward) and lottery-style games (SPINS). Finally, there will be plenty of daily, weekly, and annual MTTs. Some of which will form part of larger tournament series with guarantees worth six, seven and, possibly, eight-figure sums.
Another reason partypoker West Virginia has the chance to become a leading light in the state is its commitment to customer satisfaction. Firstly, it hosts a variety of live events (partypoker Live) and that means you can take part in qualifiers from as little as $0.10. Secondly, the security team has taken aim at bots since 2018. This increased focus on taking out cheaters means the site is a lot safer. What’s more, tracking software is prohibited. Therefore, partypoker WV will be the ideal place for novices and casuals to have fun alongside pros.
The West Virginia online poker scene is a mixed bag. Yes, legal changes in 2019 meant that non-play money sites were allowed. However, that’s not the end of the story. Thanks to US sweepstakes laws, there’s another player in town. That player is Global Poker. Legal in 49 US states, including West Virginia, this free-play site has a unique structure that’s ideal for newbies and low stakes players.
The system is fairly simple:
Using the above system, Global Poker stays within the confines of the law by virtue of being a free-play sweepstakes site. In tandem with this dynamic, Global Poker has quirky names for its MTTs such as Bonanza. These features create a laid-back vibe that’s appealing to casual players but not so appealing to pros.
This makes Global Poker perfect for anyone that wants to learn the ropes, enjoy themselves, and become a better player without worrying about sharks. Naturally, you can stick with Global Poker if you like it. However, our tip is to use this site to hone your skills before switching to one of our recommended real-money West Virginia apps.
Poker in West Virginia, moreover the world at large, is a mixture of skill and luck. Regardless of whether you’re Phil Ivey or Phil from the block, you’re never above a bad run of the cards. However, the good news is that, besides skill, there are more ways to bolster your poker defenses - Bonuses.
Bonuses are promotions that give you X for doing Y. Specifically, poker bonuses in West Virginia will be a combination of deposit rewards, freerolls (free-to-enter tournaments), and cashback (aka rakeback). All licensed West Virginia poker rooms online will offer one or more of these bonuses and your job will be to get as many as you can.
Why? Because poker bonuses and promotions give you something extra. Whether it’s free credits, cash, or tournament tickets you can turn into prize money, they will boost your bankroll. That’s great when you’re winning because you’ll have even more funds to play with. However, it’s particularly important when you’re losing. A poker bonus online won’t cancel out your losses, but it can offset a portion of your losses.
In this sense, promotions are safety nets that cushion the blow when you fall. In turn, they can negate the impact of luck in poker. If you can combine the right bonuses with the right amount of skill, you can swing the pendulum slightly more towards your direction and, potentially, emerge a long-term winner.
West Virginia poker laws mirror those in other states. There may be some subtle differences that apply to the way operators do things on a corporate level. However, the main rules you need to know are virtually identical to those used in Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
What’s also the same between regulated US poker states is intention. All gambling laws are designed to keep you safe. Yes, some things might seem pervasive or inconvenient. However, lawmakers have done their best to implement rules that ensure everyone has equal access to a secure, fair industry.
In fact, if you look back through the history of poker in West Virginia, you’ll see that every legal clause has been designed to create a system that’s fair for everyone. With that in mind, here are the West Virginia online poker laws you need to know as of this year.
All regulations and guidelines are set out by the West Virginia Lottery, as defined by the WV Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (HB 2934).
The history of WV poker goes back to 2006 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Part of the SAFE Port Act, UIGEA made it illegal for offshore operators to process payments from US residents. The law didn’t make poker illegal in the US (online), but it did cut it off at its source. Because players couldn’t make deposits or withdrawals, there was no way to play poker for money.
This shift led to the Department of Justice (DOJ) closing down the industry in 2011. With online operators out of action, it looked as though US residents wouldn’t be able to play poker via their desktops or mobiles for a while. Fortunately, various state lotteries challenged the DOJ the same year. They wanted to know if the Wire Act prevented them from selling lotto tickets online.
The verdict came back that online sports betting was covered by the Wire Act. In essence, cross-state wire communications relating to sports betting were illegal. This paved the way for state-based online betting and gaming. Within a few months, states such as New Jersey were drawing up their own gaming laws. Then, by 2012 and 2013, legal online operators began to appear in the Garden State and other places.
West Virginia poker supporters were somewhat late to the party. Lawmakers set the wheels in motion in 2019 with the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act (HB 2934). This bill added clauses to the state’s existing gaming laws and made it legal for poker and casino operators to offer their services online. In fact, it followed changes made in 2018 that permitted online and mobile sports betting in West Virginia.
HB 2934 passed through the House and Senate but wasn’t signed into law by Governor Jim Justice. However, he didn’t veto the bill, which meant it automatically became law in March 2019. With that, the online game of poker was legal in West Virginia. And the state lottery could set about drawing up the rules and regulations operators have to follow.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, various companies began sizing up their options in the state. PokerStars was partnered with Eldorado Resorts, which gave it a local live partner. However, various takeovers and mergers have complicated this relationship. partypoker has ties to MGM which, in turn, has links with The Greenbrier. That could help partypoker WV enter the state. Then there’s WSOP.com which may be able to use its partnership with Caesars to launch a site in West Virginia.
All WV poker apps have to use geolocation tracking. Why? Because if you’re not in West Virginia, you’re not allowed to use a WV poker app. This rule is what keeps things legal and away from the glare of federal law. As such, you’ll have to prove your location each time you use the site.
For example, if you want to join PokerStars WV, you’ll need to use our PokerListings signup link and enable geolocation software. The software will determine where you are in the world. If you’re in West Virginia, you’ll be able to proceed. If not, access will be blocked. The same goes for anyone trying to log in and play poker at a WV site. If the geolocation software sees you’re not in the state or it can’t determine your location, you won’t be able to play.
This is for the operator’s protection and yours. If you’re trying to game the system, you’re at risk of being cheated. In other words, geolocation tracking is like an insurance policy. It tells you that you’re using a licensed West Virginian poker room. And, therefore, you’re protected by a raft of security features and policies.
You should never use unlicensed sites for the simple fact you have no recourse if anything goes wrong. If you use partypoker WV and get cheated, there are two things you can do. First, you can take your complaint to the company itself. As a licensed operator, partypoker would have a duty to investigate the complaint and act accordingly.
If you didn’t get a satisfactory response, you can take your complaint to the West Virginia Lottery. As the state’s online gaming regulator, the WV Lottery has the power to investigate the situation. And possibly take action against partypoker which, in turn, would lead to your issue being resolved.
You couldn’t do this with an unlicensed site because it would basically be a law unto itself. Moreover, you know that licensed and legal WV poker rooms online are legit. In other words, they’ve invested a lot of time and money into making sure their entire business follows strict rules. A company that does this is a high-quality operator and one you can trust. An unlicensed site wouldn’t have done this and, therefore, can’t be trusted to keep you safe.
Why should you play poker online in West Virginia?
Online games are far more accessible than live poker games. Yes, you can travel to the Casino Club at The Greenbrier Hotel or Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and play poker. However, if it’s 9pm and you’re comfortable on the couch, it’s unlikely you’ll want to get dressed and drive. This is where the online sphere becomes perfect. By turning on your laptop or mobile, you can access dozens of cash games and hundreds of tournaments without having to get off the couch!
Bricks and mortar casinos have huge overheads. Online gaming sites also have large overheads, but they’re different to offline venues. This means poker apps are cheaper to run in many ways and that allows operators to offer lower stakes games. Indeed, because they can run more tables than a live poker room, games start $0.01/$0.02 instead of $1/$1.
Safety is a priority for every poker operator. However, when you play online, there’s a lot more surveillance (in a positive way). Security teams will monitor network activity and payments. They also have the power to review hand histories and detect cheats. In fact, companies like partypoker now have advanced ways of tracking bots which, in turn, makes playing online extremely safe. What’s more, with games certified as fair by third-party agencies, you never have to worry that you’re going to be cheated.
West Virginia has a population of 1.79 million. From what we know in other states, that’s not enough to have a booming poker economy. There will be games at lower stakes. However, as it is in states with similar populations, traffic will be limited. Don’t take that as a negative. There will be cash games and tournaments - However, they won’t be as busy as those in New Jersey, for example.
The good news is that liquidity sharing could change that. If West Virginia opens up and shares players with other states, traffic will surge. This will lead to bigger prizepools, cash games at more stakes and, potentially, more weak players for you to take on at the tables.
PokerStars, partypoker, and WSOP.com are all known for offering fantastic MTTs. Daily and weekly offerings should give you the opportunity to play for prizepools topping $50,000. However, these operators also host annual events that have $1 million+ prizepools, bracelets, and more on offer.
Hold’em and Omaha will be the main variants you can enjoy at stakes ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $1/$2. There may be games above that level, but these will be less popular. The same goes for Stud, Draw, and Mixed Games.
Sit & go tournaments start when the table is full (i.e. they’re on demand games). Everything from full-ring and six-max to heads-up tables will be available from as little as $0.10. There will also be lottery-style sit & go tournaments where the prizepool isn’t set until everyone is registered. These games are great because they only contain three/four players and the prizes can be worth more than 10,000X the buy-in.
MTTs will always be supplemented by freerolls. These are open to new players and regulars. To get into the mix, you’ll have to complete a task such as make a deposit. For example, if you make a deposit, you might receive a freeroll ticket. If you cash in a freeroll, the money you win is real and yours to keep without any wagering requirements.
All deposits and withdrawals at WV sites will be secure. The minimum and maximums will vary between sites. However, in general, you’ll be able to deposit as little as $10. Additionally, withdrawals will be subject to security reviews that typically take up to 48 hours. This means you’ll receive your money within five days in most situations.
To make deposits:
To cash out:
We’ve said it already but it’s worth repeating that playing online is safe. A licensed operator like PokerStars West Virginia will have SSL encryption. This technology encrypts data which, in turn, means your personal and financial details are protected. WV poker apps and websites will also ask you to password-protect your account.
Beyond these provisions, all player funds will be held in secure bank accounts. And, finally, games will be certified as fair. Poker games are powered by random number generators (RNGs) online - unlike live games where cheating is more possible. RNGs use complex algorithms to generate random results. Third-party testing agencies like iTech Labs will check RNGs and certify them. Without a certificate, an operator won’t receive a license. Therefore, any licensed operator will have fair games.