West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave says the Lottery will do what it can to help video lottery machine permit holders who are staring at thousands of dollars in improvements.
The Lottery Commission instructed Musgrave to meet with the interested parties soon after the permit holders spoke up at Thursday’s commission meeting.
The manufacturer of the limited video lottery machines that are located in lodges, bars and clubs across the state has told the Lottery it plans to change its computer protocol which means the current machines won’t work unless they are upgraded by the end of 2017. The permit holders say they can’t afford an upgrade that could cost up to $5,000 per machine.
Musgrave says he’ll meet with the permit holders to try and determine the best way to move forward. He says in reality though, this is a situation between the permit holders and the manufacturer, Nevada-based IGT.
“The state is not party to that but we will try every way we can to bring a resolution to this that is favorable to everybody,” he said.
Herk Sparchane of the West Virginia Amusement and Video Lottery Association says the permit holders, many of them small business owners, had no way of knowing when they secured a 10-year permit in 2011 that they would have to spend money to upgrade the machines just a few years later.
“We had seminars and they told us they would be good for 10 years,” Sparchane recalled. “After less than 24 months they’re telling us (something different).”
Sparchane says the permit holders may end up going to the legislature and asking lawmakers to put up some money to help fund the necessary upgrades. He says the legislature approved financing two years ago for the state’s casinos to update their video lottery machines.
IGT originally wanted the upgrades to be finished by 2015 but has agreed to extend that to Dec. 2017. The 10-year permits stretch through 2021.