CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Lottery topped the $1 billion in sales mark for the recently completed fiscal year despite a significant drop off in revenue at a few of the casinos.
Lottery Commission members took a look at year-end financial numbers during their meeting Wednesday in Charleston. The $1 billion sales mark was hit for the 16th consecutive year despite a poor year for both Racetrack Video Lottery and table games, according to state Lottery Director Allan Larrick.
“Our only area we are lagging in is the casinos,” Larrick said. “The RVL income is down, table games are down. That’s our hope with sports betting that we are going to get more people into the casinos.”
The five casinos operating in the state hope to have sports books ready for patrons by Sept. 1. Larrick said the casinos hope the new betting option will bring more players to their sites who will then play video lottery and table games.
Racetrack Video Lottery revenues were down by $17 million in the recently completed fiscal year when compared with numbers from fiscal year 2017. Table game revenues were down more than $1.5 million.
The reason the overall revenues in 2018 ($1.09 billion) exceeded 2017 revenues ($1.08 billion) was due to a significant increase in Limited Video Lottery revenues, which were up $21 million and online and instant games which were up more than $10 million combined for the fiscal year.
“That’s been very, very important. That’s really offset the losses we’ve had at the casinos,” Larrick said.
Those in charge of LVL sites have taken advantage of a change in state law that allows them to have up to seven gambling machines at any one site. Information released Wednesday shows 613 sites have more than five machines. That’s more than half of the total 1,033 LVL locations, Larrick said.
“If you’ve noticed that if that many of the locations have gone to the seven it’s been profitable,” he said.
There are 809 more video slot machines in operation at LVL locations than there were last year at this time.
The LVL locations have also taken advantage of the Sunday Brunch Law made available through Home Rule in recent years. Nearly 400 LVL locations are open for Sunday brunch where alcohol sales are allowed to begin at 10 a.m.
The struggle for the casinos is also in the area of table games, especially at the casinos in Wheeling and Chester. Adjusted gross receipts for June show those two casinos ahead of only the casino at the Greenbrier. The casino at Charles Town still performs the best of any of the five casinos. It had adjusted gross receipts in table games of nearly $5.5 million in June. The Northern Panhandle casinos were at $1.03 million (Mountaineer) and $642,000 (Wheeling Island) for the month.