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W.Va. lottery revenues down less than feared

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Lottery revenues continued to slide in August -- but not as badly as officials had expected.

Lottery Director John Musgrave said officials had expected revenues to drop sharply on the assumption that competition from seven large casinos in Ohio would be drawing customers away from West Virginia's racetrack casinos.

"In Ohio, they just haven't moved as fast to get their operations up and running as we thought," said Musgrave.

However, one of the most serious threats to West Virginia's gaming facilities, Hollywood Casino, in Columbus, is set to open Oct. 8.

Musgrave also noted that Maryland residents will vote Nov. 6 on a referendum to expand video slots operations into full-scale casinos by legalizing table games.

Total Lottery revenues in August totaled $116.3 million, down $2.6 million from August 2011, but better than the month's forecast of $97.4 million.

Lottery officials had projected that competition from the new casinos would take a $20 million bite out of Lottery revenues. Instead, revenues from the four racetrack casinos dropped only about $3.6 million from August 2011.

Hollywood Casino, in Charles Town, continued to provide the lion's share of state casino revenues, thanks to a location unaffected by competition from Ohio and only minimally impacted by video slots in neighboring Maryland.

Charles Town produced $13.3 million in table games revenue for the month -- more than three times the $4.2 million of revenue from the three other racetracks and The Greenbrier casino combined.

In fact, Charles Town paid more in state table games privilege taxes -- $4.66 million -- than the other facilities had in total table games revenues.

Also Tuesday, the Lottery Commission:

  • Approved a rule change relaxing requirements to obtain casino privileges at The Greenbrier resort. The rule change will allow people attending special events at the resort, such as The Greenbrier Classic golf tournament, to have access to the casino if 400 or more rooms in the hotel are booked.
  • Previously, access was restricted to registered guests at the hotel, members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club and to individuals registered for conventions or conferences at the resort if 400 or more rooms were occupied.

    Musgrave said the change will make it slightly easier for people attending events at The Greenbrier to access the casino without opening it up to the general public.

    "We don't want buses pulling up and unloading folks just for the purpose of going to the casino," he said.

  • Renewed an interagency agreement with the state Educational Broadcasting Authority to produce nightly Lottery drawings.
  • The new agreement increases Lottery's payments to the EBA by $9,000 a year, to about $170,000, to cover increased costs to the EBA to access satellite uplinks to transmit the nightly telecast to television stations around the state. The current contract expires Oct. 8.

    Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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