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Lottery chief to head more agencies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The head of the West Virginia Lottery Commission will now also oversee three other state agencies, as part of a restructuring of state government that mirrors a similar attempt by then-Gov. Joe Manchin several years ago.

State Department of Revenue Secretary Charles Lorensen announced the administrative changes Tuesday, which he said will make the 1,100-employee department more efficient.

Lorensen said he has appointed Lottery Commission Director John Musgrave as deputy revenue secretary. Musgrave will oversee the Lottery, Racing Commission, Alcohol Beverage Control Administration and Athletic Commission.

"This is an opportunity to see if things can run a little more efficiently and smoothly," Lorensen said.

In 2009, Manchin pushed for legislation to bring the same agencies, along with regulation of charitable bingo, under control of a state Gaming Commission.

At the time, the Manchin administration said the proposal would save at least $15 million in five years by reducing redundant salaries and expenses among the various agencies.

Racetrack casinos are separately regulated by the Lottery, Racing Commission and ABCA - and also by the Athletic Commission if they host boxing or mixed martial arts events.

Likewise, the 1,600 bars and clubs around the state operating video lottery machines fall under regulation by both the ABCA and Lottery. It is not uncommon for a bar to be visited by an inspector from the ABCA, checking enforcement of state liquor laws, and by a Lottery inspector, checking on Limited Video Lottery operations, on the same night.

Manchin's 2009 bill died in the House of Delegates, primarily because of opposition from horse racing industry lobbyists.

Lorensen said the internal reorganization does not go as far as Manchin's bill, which would have placed control of the state's interests in gaming, horse and dog racing and alcohol sales under a single Gaming Commission.

"We still have a Lottery Commission, separate from the Racing Commission, and separate from the ABCA," Lorensen said. "In the short term, it's a much more incremental approach."

Eventually, he said, there could be some consolidation of personnel between the agencies.

Lorensen said it particularly makes sense to consolidate those Revenue agencies under a deputy secretary, since all the agencies are now located in the Lottery headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Where these agencies were once spread all over town, now you can see them by going up or down an elevator," he said.

The Lottery Commission bought the City Center West office tower in 2010 for $21.6 million, and spent more than $13 million renovating the 13-story building. Last year, the department consolidated offices of several agencies in the building, including the ABCA and the Racing Commission.

Also Tuesday, Lorensen said that in addition to serving as department secretary, he will serve as the state's acting tax commissioner, effective Feb. 1.

Craig Griffith, who had served as tax commissioner for nearly three years, obtained an employment exemption from the state Ethics Commission in November in order to seek employment in the private sector.

Lorensen has experience as tax commissioner, having served in that position for about 18 months from 1989 to 1990 under Gov. Gaston Caperton.

Lorsensen will not receive additional compensation for serving as acting tax commissioner. He said Musgrave will receive a $5,000 salary increase, to $97,500.

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


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