he West Virginia Lottery Commission on Wednesday decided to relicense five casinos for another year, and it learned that they brought in more gambling money than video lottery parlors during two weeks last month.
After the monthly Lottery Commission meeting on June 30, the state Lottery Director John Myers said: “It makes me optimistic.”
The commission learned details of just how much of a COVID hit the casinos took in 2020 in its relicensing discussion during the meeting.
Mountaineer Casino in Chester lost $9.2 million in 2020. Mardi Gras Casino and Resort in Nitro reported a loss in revenue of $2.9 million. Casinos in Wheeling in Charles Town reported modest profits. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town had reported a profit of $11.1 million, the year before it had reported $38 million. Wheeling Island had a $1.5 million profit in 2020, while the profit was nearly $7 million in 2019.
Despite the losses, the commission agreed to relicense each casino for another year. Myers said the commission did so on the advice of Charleston-based Brown Edwards Accounting which reviewed all of the financial information. “They look at them every year and they felt that their parent companies were particularly strong,” Myers said.
The casino at the Greenbrier Resort was given an additional 30 days to submit its annual audit after the person in charge of that work for the casino fell ill.
Myers said he’ll be watching how the casinos perform in the coming months with COVID-19 restrictions removed. “They were shutdown (in 2020) three months from the COVID virus and then we’ve had other restrictions on them as we moved past the shutdown,” Myers said. “That meant in some areas they had to reduce the number of (video lottery) machines operating and the number of tables operating,” he added.
Conservative revenue estimates, even lower than normal, have helped the Lottery bring in more money than originally estimated this budget year. The Lottery was $25 million above estimate in May. Revenues are $168 million above estimates 11 months into the fiscal year. The Lottery is outpacing estimates in net revenue by $30 million this fiscal year.
Myers credits some record-breaking performances by Limited Video Lottery locations and the Lottery’s traditional games. He said iGaming and sports wagering increases have also helped.
“We’ve had 20% year-over-year growth in traditional lottery for the last three years at least on the scratch-off side of the business,” Myers said. “We found folks want to see a higher jackpot. So we’ve moved from $1 tickets to $5 tickets”
Myers credits the lottery staff for the changes and the success. He expects overall revenues for this fiscal year, which ended Wednesday, June 30, to be around $1.17 billion.
The commission also learned Wednesday the recent 10-year rebidding of the LVL licenses brought in $68 million. The Lottery had expected about $55 million in revenue.