CHARLESTON — With state casinos and Limited Video Lottery locations shut down for more than two months for the COVID-19 pandemic, a 17-year streak of state Lottery annual gross revenues topping $1 billion ended in June, according to figures from the state Lottery Commission.
Gross revenue for the 2019-20 budget year, which ended June 30, topped out at $955.7 million, a drop of $187.4 million from 2018-19.
Lottery Director John Myers had predicted the end of the streak last month, after Gov. Jim Justice’s stay-at-home orders forced casinos and LVL locations to close as of March 18.
LVL locations reopened on May 30, while the state’s five casinos were allowed to reopen on June 5.
Despite the long closures, or perhaps because of pent-up demand, June was an especially strong month for the Lottery, with gross revenue of $103.74 million up 10% from June 2019.
LVL had a record month, with $40.88 million in revenue, up 27% from June 2019.
With the loss of four business days, and with social distancing restrictions, casino racetrack video lottery and table games revenue of $40.9 million was about $5.1 million less than June 2019 revenue.
For the budget year, the state’s share of Lottery profits, $424.05 million, was down $163.12 million from the 2018-19 budget year.
Also Wednesday, the Lottery Commission:
- After a lengthy hearing, revoked the Lottery license and LVL operating permits for Karen’s Cookie Carnival, and fined the LVL location $92,100 for multiple instances of cashing checks and extending credit to patrons.
- The action followed a six-month investigation of the Huntington LVL location, located inside a laundromat.
In December, owner Phillip Mann told commissioners he did not believe he had violated Lottery regulations, since the check cashing was conducted by a realty company he owns, and not in the name of the LVL location.
He also contended that he only cashed paychecks, not personal checks.
The investigation found that, during a two-year period from January 2018 to December 2019, Mann’s employees had cashed a total of 921 checks for a total of $277,663. It found evidence of individuals cashing multiple checks in the same day, and instances where checks were held for as long as seven months before being cashed.
Commission Chairman Ken Greear said Wednesday the claim that employees were unaware that the cash was being used to play LVL machines was implausible since the location where the checks were cashed was within 10 feet of the LVL machines.
Said Commissioner Dan Marshall, “In my two-plus years on the Lottery Commission, I’ve never seen a case as egregious as this.”
Under a multiplier component for fines for Lottery violations, the maximum fine for the 921 checks would have been $2.36 billion.
Mann has 10 days to appeal the decision.
- Myers said iGaming — virtual casino-style games played on computers or smartphones — launched on July 15, and in its first five days produced $160,379 in revenue on $7.9 million of wagers.
- That was equivalent to what sports wagering took in for the week, Myers said, while noting, “We know sports wagering doesn’t have a whole lot to wager on right now.”
Currently, only blackjack and roulette are offered on iGaming platforms, but plans are to approve additional games.