March Madness in West Virginia

As most of you know, per previous blogs, my buddies and I did March Madness in West Virginia this year. With legal sports betting in several states now and Vegas flights and hotel costs through the roof, this seemed to be the better option. We were hoping it wasn’t a mistake, and we ended up being pleasantly surprised by the experience. Before I go any further, I will reiterate that West Virginia is NOT Las Vegas. Shocker, right?

Originally we had planned to go to Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro, WV. About 2 weeks before the tournament, they had an issue with their tech provider and had to temporarily close their sportsbook. This put us in a pickle of sorts. Reservations had to be canceled and we had to redirect our efforts to the northern part of the state in order to have a March Madness experience. With the late change, we didn’t get reservations at the casino or at the Holiday Inn Express down the street. We got hotels in Ohio, just across the border, and had to make a 25 minute drive each morning. Not optimal, not the end of the world either.

With that aside, I was highly impressed with Mountaineer Casino. The sportsbook is William Hill, so we knew it was in good hands. The casino itself is very nice, has a spacious sportsbook, and also has huge potential for growth. We loved that they had a separate non-smoking area for slots. One end of this area is bare, perfect for an extension of the sportsbook for those of us that prefer a smokeless experience. I don’t know if they plan on doing that, but it’s there for the taking. There are a few dining options at Mountaineer. Big Al’s (24 hours), Gatsby’s, and LBV Steakhouse. Being a bit of a foodie, I tried all 3 and was not disappointed. The reason these dining options are important is because there is nothing anywhere near this casino. Nothing, save a plethora of strip clubs. Good lord, there were some strip clubs, none of which we visited. I swear.

Mountaineer Casino will see growing pains, not all of which is their fault. Keep in mind, sports betting is a new thing in West Virginia. There were a lot of rookie moves made by the patrons that we saw over the 4 days we were there. Sportsbook etiquette is a thing, guys. I thought 2 guys were going to throw hands Saturday morning. Over a table, no less. My advice to everyone is to visit Vegas to see how it’s supposed to be done; how you’re supposed to act. They may even do well to have tutorials to those who have never bet sports before. I saw a few times where someone tried to make a bet that didn’t make sense or had too many questions at the window. This holds up the line quite a bit.

From Mountaineer’s standpoint, they could stand to make a couple changes, especially during busy times like March Madness or Super Bowl. First off, when the book opens at 9:00, have all windows manned. They were starting off with 1 or 2 and the line just kept getting longer. Also, an 8:00 start time would have been better for those 4 days. The first 2 days were reserved table days. The next 2 were first come. This caused a bit of confusion and almost resulted in the throwing of hands I mentioned above. Other than that, like I said, I was very impressed with the place. I look forward to going back soon with a chance to stay on site and really check the place out.

Overall, we had a great time. We each cashed at least once and really enjoyed our time there. For the trip, I finished down $29. Not bad, I’ve had much worse on Vegas trips. Mountaineer has a lot to offer for bettors who decide to give it a try. They even have a self serve station that offers free soft drinks, coffee, and tea. I thought that was a nice touch. I would guess that the area will grow as sports betting becomes more popular. Like I said, there is nothing for miles around. Well, you could always hit up Rebecca’s. Possibly the smallest strip club I’ve ever seen (from the outside) with probably only room for 1 pole. It may even be Rebecca herself. The building, with bright pink paint that was flaking, was leaning to the right. So you better hurry before it continues its inevitable fall to the earth.

Ok, back to betting; check out Mountaineer if you’re nearby. You won’t be disappointed. As always, gamble wisely.


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