West Virginia Lottery Commissioner Alan Larrick resigned his position on Aug. 31. The resignation came one day after sports betting soft-launched in West Virginia.
Larrick gave no official reason for his sudden departure. In response to the news, Gov. Jim Justice appointed West Virginia Deputy Revenue Secretary Doug Buffington to act as the interim director of the commission.
“There is no question (Larrick) has done an excellent job and he will be missed,” said Justice, in a press release.
Larrick became commissioner in January 2017. During his tenure, both instant and total sales improved their year-over-year numbers for the first time in years.
Commissioner’s resignation oddly timed
It’s hard to know if the launch of sports betting had anything to do with Larrick’s decision to resign. Under West Virginia law, the lottery commission oversees gambling in the state, including sports betting.
Hollywood Casino Charles Town soft-launched its sportsbook on Aug. 30. Two days later, the casino celebrated the sportsbook’s grand and official opening. Former NFL player and commentator Joe Theismann was on-hand as part of the festivities.
The resignation was especially surprising, given how vocal and passionate Larrick has been about sports betting coming to the Mountain State. In March 2018, he told the Charleston Gazette Mail that the commission was proactively pushing forward in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding PASPA.
“We’re really looking forward to working with our partner casinos,” he said. “I think we’ve really gotten ahead of the curve. We’re out there first.”
It’s at least possible that Larrick felt his work was complete. His legacy as one of the architects of West Virginia sports betting was finally secure.
WV sports betting off to a good start
Indeed, the other four West Virginia casinos should debut their own sportsbooks within a month or so. For its part, Hollywood Casino is already showing promising results.
In an interview with WV Metronews, Hollywood Casino VP of Racing and Sports Operations Erich Zimny indicated that the sportsbook had seen a handle of $640,000 in four days of operation.
Of that $640,000, Zimny said that $320,000 would remain with the casino as hold. Although some of that figure is reserve for future bet payouts, the casino will keep the vast majority of it as profit.
Of course, ten percent of it is going to the state budget, too, in the form of taxes. Zimny confirmed that the state of West Virginia is now $32,000 richer.
With the NFL season about to start and more sportsbooks on the way, that figure can only go one direction — up.