Poker Coverage:

West Virginia Poker Industry Takes Off

First Year in Biz and the Poker Offerings Continue to Grow


Mountaineer PokerTalk about going from zero to 100 mph…

Casino poker in West Virginia, which has only been available for a little more than a year, has quickly become an oasis for those players stuck in the non-poker vortex of the mid-Atlantic.

Specifically, players located in Southern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, along with those in the Mountain State, have benefited after voters approved a referendum that allowed three existing racetracks and slot parlors to spread table games, including poker.

Since mid-October 2007, poker has been spread at three locations: Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort (located in Chester, which sits near the northwestern border of the state, near both Ohio and Pennsylvania), Wheeling Island (located a couple dozen miles south of Mountaineer), and Tri-State Racetrack (located in south-central West Virginia).

Between the three rooms, 97 tables are available: 40 at Tri-State, 37 at Mountaineer, and 20 at Wheeling Island. Those interested will find more about just how well the poker rooms are doing after when the West Virginia Lottery Commission releases its financial report for the year next month. This will be the first annual report that includes poker.

The industry in the state started with a bang. The first two rooms to open, Mountaineer and Wheeling Island, reported a total of more than $1.3 million in poker revenue the first month of operation. MTR Gaming, which is publicly traded and owned by Mountaineer, reported that poker generated $1.7 million in revenue in the second quarter of 2008 there.

“Obviously, we recognized there certainly was a market for table gaming both through tables and poker, and that was one reason we sought to have West Virginia authorized for table games and poker,” said Tamara Pettit, the public relations director for Mountaineer.

The casinos have been targeting Western Pennsylvania, particularly Pittsburgh, with advertisements advertising both their casino and poker games, and they have been seeing increased traffic as a result.

“I think as word as gotten out, more and more people know about the poker. We are getting the word out that table gaming [arrived] last year, and I think that’s a big attraction to people in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.”

Weekends at both Wheeling Island and Mountaineer see a crush of players scrambling for seats, most of them vying for tables with lower limits. But there are still some heavy games going on, particularly at Mountaineer, which regularly spreads $10-$20 limit and $10-$25 no-limit (which has a $1,000 minimum buy-in and a $7,000 maximum buy-in for no-limit).

In addition, all three cardrooms have built decent tournament schedules, particularly Mountaineer, which is getting enough interest to hold ladies-only events, tourneys that guarantee $10,000 to the winner, and at least one bigger buy-in tourney a month (usually $1,000, and fed by satellites). It’s also holding a Winter Open in February, which will feature a $3,000 buy-in deep-stack event. Tourneys take place every day at Mountaineer.

Wheeling Island holds World Series of Poker satellites regularly, as well as daily tournaments. It also offers players a bad-beat jackpot. Tri-State boasts the Big Easy poker room, which offers a handful of monthly tournaments.



almost 14 years ago

thank god for mountaineer