Source: Melinda Nagy via 123RF

Legal sports betting in the US state of West Virginia went live last week, with the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races taking a $50 wager.

The historic move saw the casino taking the groundbreaking bet from delegate Jason Barrett on the West Virginia University/Tennessee Mountaineers game.

The Thursday event was a soft opening in advance of the main weekend launch during which, according to US media sources citing official lottery figures, the Penn National Gaming venue saw a total of circa $340,000 wagered on the first Saturday of the college football season.

With the Hollywood Casino sportsbook now fully operational, the state’s four remaining casinos are scheduled to offer sports betting in the next two months. Online and mobile wagering are expected to follow close behind.

Looking ahead, West Virginia legislators have projected state revenue of $5.5m annually from sports betting. However, the state lottery sees that figure as conservative and its own study suggests that returns could reach as high $17m per year.

As sports betting made its grand entry this weekend, the announcement came almost simultaneously that Alan Larrick had resigned from his role as director of the West Virginia Lottery.

Larrick had held the post since January, 2017, during which time the lottery saw a 12 per cent increase in instant sales and a $12m growth in total sales. Taking his place in an acting role is Doug Buffington, currently deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Revenue.