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Lottery waiting for details of water crisis loss

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The nine-county water emergency that forced businesses -- including bars and clubs and the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort -- to shut down for several days has affected state Lottery revenues, Lottery Director John Musgrave said Thursday.

"There was a loss in the nine-county area," said Musgrave, who said exact numbers from the impact of the Jan. 10 chemical leak and subsequent do-not-use order for water are not yet available.

In addition to losing business during the water emergency, Musgrave said the Cross Lanes casino also had a water line break earlier that week caused by the severe cold.

"They had some revenue losses," he said.

Otherwise, with the exception of a surge in Mega Millions ticket sales thanks to a $636 million jackpot, December was another down month for state Lottery revenues, the Lottery Commission learned Thursday.

Total gross revenue for December of $98.31 million was down $8 million, or 7.5 percent, from Dec. 2012.

Racetrack video lottery fell $5.85 million, to $45.57 million, while limited video lottery in bars and clubs around the state dropped $1.9 million to $30.75 million.

Table games revenues at the state's four racetrack casinos plunged 36 percent to $4.13 million for December 2013.

Thanks to Mega Millions sales, however, online ticket sales jumped to $8.66 million, up $2.84 million over Dec. 2012.

At the midway point in the 2013-14 budget year, the Lottery has gross revenue of $612.49 million, down $51.97 million from the same point in 2012.

Year-to-date, the state's share of Lottery profits is at $263.93 million, down $24.74 million, or about 8.6 percent, from the same point a year ago.

Also at Thursday's Lottery Commission meeting:

| Lottery marketing director Nikki Orcutt said the winner of a $1 million Mega Millions ticket sold in Belle in mid-December still has yet to come forward to claim the prize.

She said Lottery officials had been hoping the winner was waiting until after the first of the year to claim the prize for tax purposes, but said that does not appear to be the case.

"It seems as if somebody has thrown their ticket away, or they're just going to hold out until the 179th day," she said. Lottery winners have 180 days to claim their prizes.

| Musgrave said the Lottery is seeking legislation to expand video keno games to restaurants and retail locations that do not have Alcohol Beverage Control Administration licenses.

When keno was legalized in 1993, there were no restrictions on retail locations, but a year later, legislation was passed limiting the statewide Lottery game to locations with liquor licenses.

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


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