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Closed casinos, bars cost WV $9M-plus a week

West Virginia is losing more than $9 million a week from the shutdown of state casino and Limited Video Lottery gaming.

Meeting telephonically Wednesday, the Lottery Commission discussed multiple aspects of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact but did not mention the most obvious issue — lost revenue.

Casino video lottery machines, table games, sports wagering and Limited Video Lottery gaming accounted for 84% of total Lottery revenue of $95.1 million and profits of $44.7 million in February. That calculates to an average profit of $9.4 million a week.

Barring major winter storms, cold-weather months such as February are generally high-revenue months for the state’s five casinos and the bars and clubs offering LVL.

Casino and LVL accounted for 83% of the $746.2 million in revenue and $337.2 million in Lottery profits for the first eight months of the budget year.

Just seven Lottery staffers appeared in person for Wednesday’s meeting, during which Executive Director John Myers discussed steps taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those steps include most Lottery employees working from home. Staffers were spread out Wednesday in the Lottery headquarters’ large 10th-floor conference room.

Myers said other measures include leaving deliveries of scratch-off ticket bundles in the warehouse unopened and untouched for 72 hours, to allow time for potential virus droplets on the packaging to die off.

“A lot of things have been thrown our way,” Myers told the commission, “and the folks here have adapted well.”

The pandemic will delay the launch of a new Keno game, which will be available to all Lottery retailers under legislation passed last year. The current version, Travel Keno, is available only in establishments with state-issued alcohol licenses.

The new game, Keno Go, now is scheduled to launch sometime in June, instead of May, commissioners were told.

Drawings will take place every three minutes, instead of the current five, and results will be posted on the Lottery’s mobile app so that convenience store operators will not be burdened with having to post winning numbers.

Reach Phil Kabler at

philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220

or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.