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Lottery director: State revenues from sports betting still hard to pin down

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State Lottery Director John Myers told senators Tuesday that the Lottery still does not have financial data from the recent launch of sports betting in the state to give a more accurate update on the state’s share of revenue, beyond estimates of between $2 million and $5 million a year.

While all five state casinos opened on-site sportsbooks between August and December, only two — Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island — have sports wagering apps up and running to date, he said.

“It’s going to be very difficult to give you a solid number for the coming year because we haven’t had a complete rollout at all the tracks yet,” said Myers, who said Lottery officials have tried to extrapolate from sports betting figures in Nevada and New Jersey.

Sen. Michael Maroney, R-Marshall, questioned whether the state’s 10 percent tax on sports betting is too low.

“I still think we gave this away,” he said, adding, “I think the numbers are going to show we left of lot of money on the table that went into pockets of Delaware North and Penn National, and whoever owns Mountaineer and whoever owns The Greenbrier.”

During debate on the bill last year to legalize sports betting, legislators settled on a 10 percent tax, on the advice of consultants, to be competitive with casinos in neighboring states, as well as to draw players away from betting illegally using bookies or offshore betting sites.

Myers said that, following years of downturn from the peak year of 2007, state casino operators have indicated that losses from expansion of out-of-state competition has finally leveled off.

For the 2019-20 budget year, the Lottery is projecting it will produce $418.47 million in revenue for the state, up nearly $5 million from its 2018-19 estimate, and that it will finish the current budget year with a $30.75 million surplus, to be appropriated in the 2019-20 budget.

The upcoming budget year marks the first uptick in projected Lottery revenue since 2014-15, Myers said.

Reach Phil Kabler at

philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220

or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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