Pent-up demand for video slots play after a 10½-week shutdown has revenue from Limited Video Lottery at bars and clubs running at record levels, state Lottery Director John Myers told the Lottery Commission on Wednesday.
In fact, when limited video restarted May 30, having been shut down since March 18, the day’s revenue was the highest ever for a Saturday, going back to when the Lottery started tracking the daily take in 2008.
For the two days that show up in the May revenue report, May 30 and May 31, gross limited video revenue was $3.3 million. Myers said revenue since has been averaging about $1.5 million a day.
That would put June limited video revenue collections on pace to reach $45 million, about 50% higher than monthly averages.
Myers said revenue from casinos that reopened June 5 also has been “above average,” although he said gross revenue has dropped off in the past three to four days.
“Some of them have dropped off more sharply than others,” he said.
Myers did not elaborate, but players could be reacting to reports of surges of COVID-19 infections in 29 states, including West Virginia, with 12 states setting all-time high daily numbers for new cases.
Myers said there have been no reports of coronavirus infections linked to visits to the state’s five casinos.
Limited video’s reopening came too late in the month to salvage May revenue numbers for the Lottery.
Gross revenue totaled $28.5 million, mainly from sales of traditional scratch-off and online ticket sales. That was down more than 71% from May 2019 collections of $99.9 million.
For the budget year to date, Lottery gross revenue of $851.99 was down $198 million from the same point in 2019.
With one month left in the budget year, it also virtually assures the Lottery will fail to break the $1 billion mark in annual gross revenue for the first time since 2002.
The state’s share of Lottery profits for May, $7.96 million, is 83% below May 2019 profits of $47.49 million
Year-to-date state profits of $376.14 million are down $106 million from the same point in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Also during the Lottery Commission meeting Wednesday:
- Commissioners approved combining rules and internal controls for iGaming with existing rules and controls for mobile sports betting apps, clearing the way for the launch of online gaming as early as next month.
“We may see iGaming by the end of July, based on the progress these folks are making,” Myers said.
Online gaming, or iGaming, will allow players to wager on virtual casino and video slots games on their mobile devices. It was legalized by the Legislature in 2019.
- Commissioners voted to re-license the casino at The Greenbrier resort, owned by Gov. Jim Justice’s family.
Although the casino has lost money each of the past five years, a financial review showed the losses have dropped below $1 million a year in the past three years.
The casino’s parent company, the Justice Family Group, also had operating losses through 2017, the year Justice became governor, but the operation turned a profit of $4.8 million in 2018 and $20.9 million in 2019, according to the Lottery analysis.
- Commissioners signed off on plans by Delaware North, a global food service and hospitality company that operates 11 casinos in five states, to borrow up to $325 million to offset operating losses from COVID-19 shutdowns.
In West Virginia, Delaware North owns the Mardi Gras casino in Nitro and Wheeling Island casino.
- Myers said a Hinton couple have claimed a $136 million Powerball jackpot, but did so anonymously under a 2016 law giving Lottery jackpot winners the option of keeping their identities secret.
He said the couple took the one-time cash payout option, totaling about $108 million.
- Commissioners tentatively scheduled their next meeting for July 22 at Lottery Headquarters in Charleston, following four months of telephonic meetings.
Myers said seating in the 10th floor conference room will be changed to permit social distancing and facemasks will be required.