Published: September 23, 2021

West Virginia State Lottery revenues hold steady in face of COVID-19 surge

Revenue from state casinos and Limited Video Lottery parlors has remained steady during the current record surge in COVID-19 cases statewide, Lottery Commission members were advised Thursday.

Lottery Director John Myers said gross revenue from the state’s casinos and Limited Video Lottery locations has remained essentially unchanged during the current COVID-19 surge, allaying fears that the spike in cases would cause downturns in attendance and video slots play.

“The casinos and LVL have stayed flat,” Myers told the Lottery Commission Thursday.

“We haven’t seen a severe drop-off, but we haven’t seen it come back completely from where we were trending when we took the [COVID-19] restrictions off last summer,” he

In August, Myers raised concerns the surge could hurt patronage at the state’s five casinos, which he said had been slowly building back business after being shut down from mid-March to early June 2020, and then operating under capacity restrictions that extended into early this summer.

“We’re all concerned. I think everyone is,” he said at the time, as COVID-19 cases more than tripled during the month.

However, August revenue figures show that gross revenue from racetrack video lottery and LVL remained essentially unchanged from July, when COVID-19 cases fell to the lowest levels since the pandemic first hit the state in March 2020.

August racetrack video lottery gross revenue of $39.6 million was down slightly from $40 million in July, but up 12.6% from $35.16 million in August 2020.

LVL, in more than 1,200 bars and clubs statewide, grossed $40.7 million for the month, up slightly from $40.53 million in July, and up 6.5% from $38.21 million in August 2020.

Revenue from the 12,786 racetrack video lottery and LVL machines operating statewide accounts for more than 75% of total state Lottery revenue.

Casino table games revenue continued to improve in August, at $2.94 million, up from $2.68 million in July, and $2.05 million in August 2020, as casinos gradually reopened additional gaming areas and amenities.

Overall, the Lottery grossed $105.05 million in August, down slightly from $105.48 million in July, but up nearly $11.5 million over August 2020.

The state’s share of Lottery profits for August was $46.12 million, down from $49.4 million in July, but up $5.4 million from August 2020.

Budget year-to-date, the Lottery has gross revenue of $216,93 million, up from $187.58 million at the same point last year. The state year-to-date share of profits of $95.91 million is up $14 million from the same point last year.

Also Thursday, Myers said the Lottery is on pace to net slightly over $1 million a year from the new 6 a.m. daily start-up time of LVL machines.

The earlier start time corresponds with a new law that took effect May 10 allowing ABCA-licensed bars and clubs to open daily at 6 a.m. Previously, bars and clubs could not open until 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and until 1 p.m. on Sundays — except 10 a.m. in counties that had approved Sunday brunch ordinances.

From May 10 to Aug. 31, the state netted $270,588 from the early play, Myers said, adding, “It’s about at what we projected.”

He said 72 of the roughly 1,250 LVL locations in the state are taking advantage of the early start-up time.

LVL machines are controlled from a central computer in Charleston, and the machines are activated and shut off to coincide with hours when ABCA-licensed bars and clubs may be open, currently 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

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