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West Virginia Lottery Director Resigns as State Launches Sports Betting

The Director of the West Virginia Lottery resigned from his post on the same day the state’s first legal sportsbook celebrated its soft opening and two days before a grand opening ceremony was held at the facility, a press release from the office of Gov. Jim Justice reads.

Alan Larrick was appointed as head of the state gambling regulator in January 2017. He is from Beckley and prior to his appointment at the West Virginia Lottery he worked as an attorney at his hometown for nearly four decades.

The press release, issued on Friday, stated that Mr. Larrick informed Gov. Justice about his decision after the Thursday soft opening of a sportsbook at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, the state’s first legal sports betting facility following the legalization of wagering on sports in West Virginia and the annulment of a long-standing federal ban on sports betting.

Mr. Larrick’s resignation became effective yesterday, September 1. Gov. Justice appointed Doug Buffington as an acting Director of the Lottery. Mr. Buffington is currently serving as Deputy Secretary for the West Virginia Secretary of Revenue.

The state’s Lottery oversees and regulates all types of gambling services that are legal on the territory of West Virginia, including sports betting. That particular activity was legalized in the state on March 3 in anticipation of the US Supreme Court’s ruling from May 14 that struck down a federal ban on betting on professional and collegiate sports.

West Virginia became the fourth state to launch sports betting after the SCOTUS ruling and the fifth overall, as the activity was legal in Nevada prior to that.

Resignation ahead of Sportsbook’s Grand Opening

Local media reports that Mr. Larrick’s resignation came as a bit of a surprise. The former Lottery Director has not commented on him leaving his post at the gambling regulator yet.

Mr. Larrick attended Thursday’s soft opening of the Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town. From that day on, customers have been able to place bets on all types of sporting events. A grand opening ceremony took place at 11 am local time on Saturday.

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann placed the ceremonial bet. He wagered on his former team to beat the Arizona Cardinals in the first game of the new NFL season next week.

Hollywood Casino owners told local media that it was their goal to open the sports betting facility ahead of the start of the new football season and that they were glad they managed to meet that goal.

Erich Zimny, Vice President for Racing at the gambling venue, revealed that their wagering facility has turned out extremely popular among customers and that total wagers reached a six-figure amount during the first days of operation. A mobile betting app is expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

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