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Lottery board OKs hybrid gambling system

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the state Lottery Commission Thursday approved a hybrid gambling system that gives players the option of using electronic touch-screens to bet on traditional live table games, including roulette and mini-baccarat.

Lottery Director John Musgrave hopes innovations like the Rapid Fusion system approved Thursday will help West Virginia's racetrack casinos compete with new gambling complexes in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"This should make them more attractive," Musgrave said.

Requested by management of the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, but approved for all four racetrack casinos, the system will allow players to place bets electronically on touch-screen displays located adjacent to the actual table game.

Commissioners previously have approved electronic wagering on table games, with games such as Rapid Roulette, which uses a traditional roulette wheel, but with all players betting using electronic touch screens. Rapid Fusion is the first to give players the option of playing from the live table or at an electronic station.

Otherwise, out-of-state competition continued to take a toll on Lottery revenues for November.

Total revenue for the month was $98.85 million, down nearly 11 percent from $109.52 million of revenue for November 2012.

Racetrack video lottery was down $1.76 million to $48.9 million, while table games revenue fell 43 percent, to $4.2 million.

Limited video lottery at bars and clubs around the state fell $1.2 million, or about 4 percent, to $31.1 million.

Traditional online and scratch-off games brought in $14 million, down $5.9 million from November 2012.

For the first five months of the 2013-14 budget year, total Lottery revenue is down $43.98 million, at $514.17 million. Racetrack video lottery is down 9 percent, while limited video lottery is off 5.5 percent, and table games are down 36 percent from the same point in 2012.

Year-to-date, the state's share of Lottery profits is $220.86 million, down $19.8 million from the same point in 2012.

Also Thursday:

  • Lottery marketing director Nikki Orcutt hopes publicity about the winner of a $1 million Mega Millions ticket sold in Belle will increase public awareness of the multi-state lottery game.

In the five days leading up to Tuesday's jackpot drawing, state retailers sold about $1.75 million Mega Millions tickets -- less than half the sales the Lottery would expect for a comparable Powerball jackpot.

Orcutt said clerks were calling the Lottery expressing concerns that many people were buying Powerball, not Mega Millions, tickets leading up to the jackpot drawing.

"We're hoping this million-dollar prize winner brings some attention to the Mega Millions game," she said.

  • Orcutt announced that the drawing for the $1 million grand prize in the second-chance contest in the Monopoly Millionaire scratch-off game will be Jan. 9, with a qualifying drawing Jan. 2.

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


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