The West Virginia Lottery surpassed $1 billion in gross sales for the fiscal year last week, director John Myers said Wednesday.
At a regular monthly meeting of the Lottery Commission Wednesday morning, commission members discussed the March revenue reports, which showed the Lottery bringing in just under $117 million in gross revenue last month. That number is slightly down from last year’s collection, when the state brought in $118.4 million during March 2021 — but that was the first month when COVID-19 vaccines started to become widely available in West Virginia.
Myers teased the coming April revenue reports in an interview following the meeting, saying the state cleared $1 billion in gross sales midway through April. Myers said this mark is an annual goal for the Lottery, and hitting it 2 1/2 months before the end of the fiscal year is a good sign.
“Hitting it this early in the year, we’ll probably end up between $1.25 and $1.3 billion [at the end of the fiscal year] is what I’m estimating,” Myers said.
At the end of March, the Lottery had collected more than $951.5 million in gross revenue for the current fiscal year. That’s much higher than 2021’s collection at this period, which was just more than $845.2 million. The bulk of that annual increase has come from racetrack video lottery sales, with the state bringing in more than $352.6 million this fiscal year, compared to $287.2 million at this point last year.
The collection from table games has surpassed $27.2 million so far this fiscal year, opposed to $18.8 million in 2021. Myers credited the increases to the return of West Virginians to the state’s casinos and racetracks.
“The numbers are starting to reflect that people are going back out into these larger venues,” Myers said. March 2022 marked the two-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 cases in West Virginia. Myers said it’s been a long road back for casinos and racetracks, especially, due to pandemic gathering restrictions and fears of close contact in these venues. He predicted that, as the weather warms up this spring and summer, revenue will continue to increase across the board.
“A lot of people didn’t want to either abide by the restrictions so they stayed home, or they had a fear of catching the virus and stayed home,” Myers said. “Now, I think, that the restrictions have been lifted, the fear of the virus is a little less than it was — we’re all more accustomed to having to deal with it — so we’re seeing those people come back, and [we] welcome that.”
The Lottery Commission tentatively scheduled its next regular meeting for May 25.