CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A three-year money-losing streak for the West Virginia Lottery has come to an end, as the agency saw an upswing in revenues for the just completed 2010-11 budget year, Lottery commissioners learned Tuesday.
Fueled by the enormous success of table games at Charles Town's Hollywood Casino, and by a surge in sales for traditional scratch-off games, the Lottery saw a 3 percent jump in total revenue for the budget year, for a total of $1.39 billion.
"Things are picking up, it looks like, a little bit," Lottery Director John Musgrave told the commissioners.
The state's share of Lottery profits — $615.38 million — is more than $10 million better than the 2009-10 budget year.
That marks the first upturn in Lottery revenues since the 2006-07 budget year, when the state's share of Lottery profits peaked at a record $640 million.
The 2010-11 revenue figure does not include the $68.67 million the Lottery raised in bidding for 7,500 new 10-year limited video lottery licenses.
Commission Chairman Ken Greear called the revenue figures "remarkable," given the weak national economy, as well as competition from new casinos and video gaming complexes in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Table game revenues jumped from $31.7 million in 2009-10 to $68.15 million in 2010-11, fueled primarily by the introduction of table games at Charles Town last July.
In June alone, table games at Charles Town grossed $12.15 million — more than double the $5.93 million produced by the state's four other casinos combined.
The other category that saw a big jump in 2010-11 was traditional scratch-off games, which saw an increase in sales of $18.21 million, to $115.69 million.
Nikki Orcutt, Lottery marketing director, credited the upswing to instant games promoting the 25th anniversary of the Lottery, including a $25 ticket game.
Also Tuesday, the Lottery Commission reviewed a toned-down regulation to require some limited video lottery locations to serve meals on-site.
Under the original 2001 law legalizing limited video lottery, bars and clubs operating under Class A beer licenses are required to have kitchens on-site and provide a menu of prepared meals for sale.
In the spring, video lottery retailer Jesse Bane filed a formal complaint against the Lottery for not enforcing the requirement, and since March, the commission has been struggling to write food service regulations.
The latest draft, discussed Tuesday, removes a proposed requirement that the on-site kitchens have stoves — a requirement that under state fire marshal's regulations, also would have required bars and clubs to install sprinklers or other fire-suppression systems.
As now proposed, food-preparation facilities would have to include at minimum a microwave oven, a refrigerator and a sink with hot and cold running water.
Locations also would be required to be able to serve at least five meals per day for each video lottery machine on the premises.
The rule also clarifies that typical bar snacks, such as chips, nuts, crackers and packaged desserts, do not qualify for the food service requirement.
The Lottery will send copies of the draft rule to all video lottery retailers on Aug. 1, and commissioners are expected to approve the regulation officially at the August commission meeting.
Also Tuesday, commissioners:
- Approved the transfer of $10 million from the Lottery's administrative account to a new fund that will allow the four racetrack casinos to draw down matching funds to replace outdated slot machines.
- Were advised that revenue collections for the casino at The Greenbrier fell about 44 percent below projections for June, after the house suffered $120,000 in losses during one four-day period.
Kris Franko, table games director, said investigators were sent to casino and found no evidence of improprieties.
The casino's revenues dropped from $576,000 in May to $248,000 in June, according to Lottery figures, with the state's share of table games revenue falling from $245,000 in May to $72,000.