Bright and early this morning I got tagged on Twitter by my Vegas pal Paul linking an article regarding 2 West Virginia sportsbooks whom immediately shut down operations without giving a reason. I read the article, then I read it again. No reasons, no notice, nothing. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, my buddies and I had decided to do March Madness in West Virginia due to insane flight rates flying out of Cincinnati.
We’ll still make it work, rest assured. We’ll just have to drive 2 more hours east to the Fan Duel sportsbook. We now have the hassle of hotel and Airbnb reservations to work through. My first night in West Virginia is non-refundable. No big deal here, I’ll still stay there and bet on the dog races. It’s the Wednesday of the 2nd night of play-in games, not a big loss. Up early on Thursday morning for the tournament and all will be back to normal. We hope.
Herein lies the issues of states rushing into legalized sports betting. I’m not saying that’s what happened with Mardi Gras Casino, but one would assume. In a rush to get a piece of the pie, the general consensus has been that mistakes would be made. That may or may not be the case here. It will happen though, if not in West Virginia, then somewhere else. Vegas will always be king and I doubt anyone will come close to what they offer. The option to bet closer to home is nice as long as the casinos involved are doing it correctly. I’d rather wait a few extra months than to go to a half-assed run sportsbook. If you remember, after my first visit to Mardi Gras, I said it was a nice place but they had bugs to work out. Apparently those bugs multiplied and they were forced to temporarily shut down. I liked the way the place was run, but maybe they should have waited a bit longer in order to be more prepared.
I’m going to head down there next Friday (another non-refundable stay) for when I originally planned to bet the conference tournaments. Even if they aren’t back up and running in their sportsbook, I plan to bet on the dogs and try to get some answers. It’s only a 3 hour drive. Hell, I drove to Indianapolis once for a burger. I love road trips. My buddies and I are already working on alternatives though. I’ve looked into hotels in the Greenbriar area of West Virginia, near the Fan Duel sportsbook, and we’ll still enjoy March Madness whether it’s at Mardi Gras or Fan Duel.
This snafu is definitely a heads up for other states ready to legalize. Get your ducks in a row, dot your i’s and cross your t’s. The people who like to gamble on sports, for the most part, are a nice crowd of people to hang with. Just make sure the sportsbook is being run correctly. Model your book after Vegas, they have all the answers. The blueprint is right there in the desert.
I’ll be watching this development in West Virginia very closely, as it is the closest state for me to gamble in. If this temporary suspension of sports gambling goes on too long, there are other options about the same distance away. There are 3 other sportsbooks in West Virginia that are still open. This wasn’t a state issue, only a company issue that shut down 2 books. Until then, bet wisely and good luck.