West Virginia opens first sportsbook, eager to welcome Ohio gamblers

West Virginia throws open the sports betting windows

On Thursday, West Virginia Delegate Jason Barrett made sports betting history in the Mountaineer State by plunking down $50 on WVU to win the national championship at 60-1 odds. 

“It's an optimistic bet, but it very well could be West Virginia's year -- we have a great quarterback and a tremendous offense,” said Barrett. “I thought it was appropriate for the first bet in West Virginia history.” 

The 36-year-old Democrat from Berkeley County earned the honors by working his side of the aisle to get the measure legalizing the industry passed on June 21. With Barrett's bet, West Virginia has now joined Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi in taking legal sports bets following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in May. Nevada already had legal sports betting prior to the court's landmark decision.

Barrett said that some powerful West Virginia lawmakers had moral objections to expanding gambling, but they were eventually won over by a bipartisan majority who saw a revenue stream that wouldn't tax many of their constituents. West Virginia Lottery officials have estimated from $9 to 17 million in revenues will result from a 10 percent tax on gross receipts.

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