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West Virginia isn’t a great state for poker right now, but that could be changing down the road.
But let’s just cut to the chase regarding that…
There are better states for poker than West Virginia. You can thank these two statutes for that:
§61-10-4. Playing or betting at gaming tables and devices; playing or betting on games at hotels and public places; penalty .
If any person bet or play at any such gaming table, bank or device as is mentioned in the first section of this article, or if, at any hotel or tavern, or other public place, or place of public resort, he play at any game except bowls, chess or backgammon, draughts or a licensed game, or bet on the sides of those who play at any game, whether the game be permitted or licensed or not, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor….
§61-10-5. Betting on games of chance; furnishing money or thing of value therefor; penalty.
If any person at any place, public or private, bet or wage money or other thing of value on any game of chance, or shall knowingly furnish any money or other thing of value to any other person to bet or wage on any such game, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor…
The good news is you do have options. We tell you what those are below.
Home Poker Games in the State
Home poker games aren’t excluded from the statute above. So, they’re illegal.
With that being said, it doesn’t sound as if the state enforces this rule. There have only been 10 gambling related arrests since 2009.
So, you could probably get away with a home game if you kept it quiet and didn’t turn a profit from it.
But, like always, it’s a good idea to consult with your lawyer or local law enforcement before you play.
What About Online Poker?
It’s the same – online poker is illegal in West Virginia.
Between gambling on games of chance, using gambling devices and the state’s broad/vague definitions of what’s gambling, there’s no reason to think otherwise.
You can still try your hand at other poker sites, though. These sites still take customers from the state (albeit illegally).
But if you choose a solid site or two, and keep the bare minimum bankroll online, you should be alright.
Legal Poker Options in West Virginia
The only legal poker option in West Virginia is live poker. There are a few commercial casinos and racinos in the state.
- The Casino Club at The Greenbrier
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort
- Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack
Combined you’ll find 24/7 poker action including tournaments and cash games. There are more than 100+ tables to choose from. From the looks of it No Limit Texas Holdem is the popular choice.
How Does West Virginia’s Future Look?
Experts think we’ll see legislation as early as 2017 or 2018.
It’s a possibility.
They’ve been talking about this since the DOJ changed their mind in 2012 about what the Wire Act means, ultimately deciding to let each state decide what their online gambling laws will be.
And according to John Musgrave (from the state’s lottery commission):
“We realize in the industry that there are an awful lot of dollars that are being funneled out of the country with some of the online poker sites. I know there has been interest in the industry, in those states with casino gaming, to allow casinos to do something similar. We’re looking at that. We don’t have a decision made or know what direction we’re moving in at this time.”
“We’re still exploring (online gaming) because we feel that’s the way the industry’s moving, so we want to plan for it,” said Musgrave. “We have not yet made any decision for how we’re going to implement it, but we are looking at it, studying it and seeing how our casinos in our jurisdiction can move in that direction.”
So, I think we’re still a ways off.
The good news, though?
At least West Virginia’s considering it. That’s more than what most other states can say right now.