Out-of-State Casinos Hurting W.Va. Lottery
May 30, 2013 – Revenues from West Virginia Lottery sales fell almost 12 percent this April as compared with April 2012, according to a Charleston Gazette report.
The West Virginia Lottery, which oversees table games and video-lottery terminals at racetrack casinos in the state, saw revenues in each type of game fall about 20 percent.
Video lottery terminals – VLTs – fell about 19 percent short of last year’s revenues, while table games took a bigger hit and lost about 21 percent compared to last April.
Lottery Director John Musgrave told the Gazette that the Lottery was actually running ahead of its own expectations by about 15 percent, “but [we are] behind in comparison to last year’s revenue,” he added.
Though setbacks with nearby Ohio’s casinos have helped West Virginia’s Lottery, Musgrave said that competition there as well as in Maryland and Pennsylvania could have serious long-term effects.
“We don’t have a huge population, so it’s hard to grow customers. You have to bring them in from across state borders, and that’s becoming more and more difficult,” Musgrave said.
Part of West Virginia’s racino woes may be operating costs. The casino on Wheeling Island unsuccessfully pushed for legislation last month that would lower the table game licensing fees casinos pay to the state by $1 million
The $2.5 million licensing fee that West Virginia casinos currently pay is prohibitively expensive according to proponents of the rejected bill.
While the racetrack casinos have seen rather sharp declines in revenue, traditional lottery games and VLTs in bars are only slightly below last year’s revenues; both lost about 5 percent.
Musgrave told the Charleston Gazette that the Lottery had overestimated the effects of competition, expecting revenues not to reach $400 million this year.
This year’s revenues currently total about $488 million, about $50 million behind the figures from the same time last year, but well ahead of the Lottery’s estimates.