CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On the eve of the debut of sports betting in West Virginia casinos, Lottery Director Alan Larrick has announced his resignation.
“There is no question he has done an excellent job and he will be missed,” Gov. Jim Justice stated in a news release.
Justice, about an hour later, issued another news release saying Doug Buffington, deputy secretary for the West Virginia Secretary of Revenue, would serve as the acting Lottery director.
Larrick was appointed to the role in 2017, when Justice took office as governor.
“Good luck in the future, and hopefully one day I can come and collect one of those big checks that we love to give out,” Larrick wrote in a memo to Lottery employees.
Larrick has practiced law for the past 38 years in Beckley. He was partner in the law firm of Ragland and Larrick. He remained there until 1996 when he formed Larrick Law Offices.
West Virginia code states, “The director serves on a full-time basis and may not be engaged in any other profession or occupation.”
Neither Larrick’s resignation note to fellow Lottery employees nor the governor’s statement mentioned that controversy.
He was one of several officials in the Justice administration whose private business ties remained tangled.
Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher stepped away from his successful engineering business but still had a 70-percent ownership stake in the company bearing his name.
Thrasher accepted a forced resignation in June, accompanied by criticism from the Justice administration that he had let his own employees too close to the work of the Commerce Department.
The governor himself continues to deal with dozens of business interests, including his family’s ownership of The Greenbrier resort and coal, timber and agricultural holdings.
Justice has placed management of The Greenbrier with his daughter, Jill, and the coal and agriculture businesses with his son, Jay. But the governor has not entered a comprehensive blind trust.
Larrick’s resignation is effective Saturday. That’s the day sports betting officially debuts at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town.
That casino is the first of five in West Virginia to get sports betting online.
The official start to sports betting was to be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Hollywood Casino before college football games begin at noon.
The legislature passed the sports betting bill in anticipation of the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that states would be allowed to establish sports betting. The Court did so in May.
A legislative estimate predicts additional revenue to the state of $5.5 million the first year. But a study commissioned by the state Lottery predicted revenue two to three times higher, at $9 million to $17 million.
West Virginia charged $100,000 licensing fees to the five casinos that will offer sports betting. There’s a 10 percent tax on adjusted gross receipts.
The announcement by Justice cited Larrick’s work on sports betting, as well as other accomplishments.
The announcement noted that Larrick oversaw a 12 percent increase in instant sales, the first year over year increase in instant sales in more than a decade and a $12 million total sales increase from the previous year, the first year over year sales increase since 2012.