Down In The Dumps: West Virginia Lottery Revenue Figures Suffer Due To COVID-19

Posted on June 30, 2020 - Last Updated on June 29, 2020

The West Virginia Lottery revenue figures were not pretty in the month of May. According to betting information released by the WV Lottery Commission, lottery revenue was down 67% compared to their monthly projections.

The lottery generated $28.5 million during May, a ways off from the $86.5 million it projected to make.

While certain aspects of the lottery revenue did better than expected, it fell short in several important categories.

Revenue from sports betting was down almost 87% below projections. The Mountain State earned just $58,000 in the month.

Since casinos were still closed during this time, the only sports wagering was done through one of three WV online sports betting apps.

These mobile platforms include:

Another area the state struggled was with revenue from Limited Video Lottery (LVL) retailers. Since businesses were closed basically the entire month, the lottery was only able to offer two days of LVL betting.

In this short period of time, LVL actually did very well. It made $3.3 million in revenue.

However, this was a massive decrease from its usual revenue estimation. The state expected $30.2 million from LVL wagering.

Although figures were impressive during the last few days of May, LVL earnings were down 89%.

The good news is that as the state continues to reopen, more people will be out of their homes and available to bet. Since WV doesn’t feature any online casino apps yet, the coronavirus shutdown has impacted the state’s budget more than others.

Thankfully, it appears like residents are missing the fun that comes along with gambling. On the first day, WV casinos reopened with crowds waiting outside hours before the doors opened.

Let’s take a deeper look at the lottery’s revenue from May and how things can turn around in June.

WV Lottery Revenue Struggles

Of course, it was extremely difficult for lottery revenue to meet expectations for the last few months. With the majority of gambling locations closed, there was no way figures could keep up with their usual pace.

Every retail WV sportsbook, casino, and LVL location was forced to close in the middle of March. Since businesses like these just started opening back up at the end of May, the state missed out on more than two months of regular betting.

Even with online sportsbooks still available, they didn’t help very much. The sports schedule limited market offerings, resulting in lower betting handle and revenue.

Sports betting handle didn’t exceed $550,000 in the entire month of April. However, with everything reopening, bettors in WV can get back to their ordinary routine.

If sports betting and LVL revenue can return to normal, the state should be in a good position to start recovering from the shutdown and lack of revenue.

For May, instant game revenue was actually 162% higher than projections. It brought in nearly $20 million in profits, as opposed to its $7.5 million forecast.

Online games also saw a jump up in revenue. They earned $5.5 million for the month, around 19% above expectations.

The LVL figures provide more reasons to be optimistic, as well. While they fell short of projections by about $27 million, they made $3.3 million in just two days.

This would project out to $49.5 million over the course of a 30-day period.

WV Lottery Director, John Myers, was pleased with this late showing in the month. On a monthly conference call with the lottery commission, he said:

“Since that time, we’ve had very good play and revenue resulting in the re-opening. Actually, during Saturday, May 30, when we re-opened, we had the highest Saturday we’ve recorded since we started keeping records on that in July of 2008.”

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WV Casinos Reopened

Luckily, the number of COVID-19 cases has been generally low throughout all of WV. That has allowed Gov. Jim Justice to move a little bit faster than other states in terms of opening back up.

With retail casinos reopening their doors on June 5, this month’s revenue should be much improved.

Every WV casino put in extra safety measures in place prior to coming back has certainly helped. It also helped that each casino is only allowed to operate at 50% of its regular capacity.

It seems this plan is working for now. There haven’t been any reported positive cases of COVID-19 at any casino in the state.

The fact that people feel safe going out and know the casinos care about people’s health has helped. There have been good showings in the first weeks back.

Myers discussed how well casinos are doing since they were able to start accepting bets again. He said:

“The first week-and-a-half was above average for some of those and depending on the actual track, the revenues even up until maybe three or four days ago have exceeded what they were the previous year. Some of those have dropped off really quickly than the others, but a good opening for the most part.”

Although things are looking up, WV is still not reaching its full potential. Online sportsbooks are covered, however, online casinos haven’t launched yet.

Online sports betting trends tell us that mobile gambling is the preferred choice of bettors in the US. Even when retail locations are available, online wagering has proven to be more popular.

So while June should be much better than May, WV won’t be hitting on all cylinders until online casinos launch.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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