Some video slot machine permit holders in West Virginia say they could go bankrupt if the manufacturer of those machines is allowed to make the machines outdated.
The permit holders were told this week by the state Lottery that Nevada-based video slots manufacturer IGT is going to change its computer protocol that allows the video slot machines across the state to communicate with the Lottery’s main computers. The change is now scheduled for Dec. 31, 2017. If the permit holders don’t change their machines they will no longer work.
West Virginia Amusement and Video Lottery Association representative George Carenbauer says an upgrade could cost a permit holder $3,000 a machine while a new machine could cost up to $30,000. Carenbauer says no one talked about the update when the 10-year permits were rebid in 2011.
“When people bid, and they spent a lot of money on the bid itself, for the right to have a terminal for 10 years, they expected when they bought the terminal that it would last for 10 years,” he said.
Carenbauer says the association is now going to push the state Lottery Commission to enforce the current Lottery law that requires IGT to make sure the system is operating properly for the 10-year period. He says that would force IGT to keep things as they are.
“They (lottery commission members) need to hold IGT accountable,” Carenbauer.
Most of the slot machine permit holders in West Virginia own small businesses. He says they could face difficult financial times if they have to spend thousands to update the machines or not use them anymore.
“This causes a very big hardship. In fact, it might bankrupt some people in the business,” Carenbauer said.
The association says the Lottery Commission and state Legislature could take other steps to relieve the financial burden including getting rid of the annual $1,000 permit fee, reducing the tax rate or extending the current permit period beyond 10 years.
The state Lottery Commission has its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Thursday in Charleston.