"These dollars have almost become a handout, if you will," he said.
Kiss said that while some of the funds would be available to close gaps in the state budget, more important, they would stabilize debt ratios on numerous bonds backed by Lottery revenue, assuring that the Lottery's bond rating will not drop below its current AAA rating.
"The more important part of that bill is to be able to continue to support bonding from Lottery funds," Kiss said.
Musgrave told the committee that the state's share of total Lottery profits peaked in fiscal 2006-07 at $592.8 million, and has been dropping since, as more than a dozen competing casinos have opened in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In the current budget year, the state's share of profits is projected to come in at $394 million.
In response to a question from Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, Musgrave said the Lottery has not looked at the possibility of licensing a casino in Mercer County, in the southeast corner of the state, to draw players from Virginia, most of North Carolina and South Carolina, where there are no competing casinos.
That would require a change in the current law, he said, which limits the Lottery to issuing five casino licenses -- four for the existing racetrack casinos and one for The Greenbrier resort.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.