CHARLESTON — West Virginia Lottery officials are concerned that the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases could hurt business at the state’s five casinos, just as casino revenue is showing signs of rebounding.
“We’re all concerned. I think everyone is,” Lottery Director John Myers said Wednesday of the potential for the surge to cause a downturn in casino attendance and revenue.
Myers said the surge hasn’t affected the state’s casinos so far, but he added, “We know that’s always a possibility.”
If it becomes necessary to reinstate public health protocols at the casinos, Myers said he’s hopeful it would go smoothly, given that casino operators have the experience of having gone through those protocols last year.
“Hopefully, we’d be able to react quicker than before, because we’ve gone through it once before,” he said.
For July, West Virginia’s four racetrack casinos took in $43.87 million on video lottery and $3.25 million from table games, up about 38% from July 2020, when casinos were operating on limited hours and restricted capacity.
For the first time since the pandemic started, racetrack video lottery grossed more for the month than Limited Video Lottery at bars and clubs. LVL took in $42.09 million for the month, down from record-setting hauls in March and April that topped $50 million each month.
Traditionally, racetrack video lottery has been, by far, the largest single revenue source for the Lottery, but it dropped below LVL revenue during the pandemic.
The Greenbrier resort’s casino took in $970,000 for the month, up 62% from June and up 18% from July 2020.
Overall for July of this year, the Lottery grossed $111.88 million, up $6.4 million from June, and up $17.89 million from July 2020. The state’s share of Lottery profits for July was $49.79 million, up $360,000 from June, and up $8.68 million from July 2020.
Myers said those numbers are encouraging, as long as the COVID-19 surge doesn’t cause a downturn in play.
“Based on July numbers, we could see an extra $100 million this year over last year,” he said. The state budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Also during Wednesday’s Lottery Commission meeting:
- Myers said the Lottery has added an online Freedom of Information Act request form to its website, in hopes of streamlining the FOIA process.
“We get a large number of Freedom of Information Act requests,” he said, saying people use several methods to submit their requests, from printed letters to emails to telephone inquiries.
He said the hope is that a standardized online form will make it easier for Lottery staff to process requests.
- Commissioners recognized former longtime commissioner Bill Clayton for his nearly 20 years of service.
Clayton, who was appointed to the Lottery Commission in September 2001, retired from the commission on May 31, having overseen many milestones in Lottery history, including the launch of Limited Video Lottery, legalization of table games at state casinos and the recent introduction of sports wagering and interactive gaming.