Record number of video lottery games and strong sales of traditional scratch games helped offset a difficult year for state casinos, pushing state lottery gross revenues above the billion mark. dollars for the 2020-21 fiscal year, after last year’s pandemic ended 18-year consecutive $ 1 billion in revenue.
“For the year, LVL has helped us a lot. This helped offset the decline in racetrack revenues, ”Lottery Director John Myers said after Wednesday’s Lottery Commission meeting.
As of May, the lottery grossed $ 1.07 billion, led by a record $ 440 million in limited video lottery games at bars, clubs and fraternal organizations across the state.
Myers told commissioners that when June’s revenue is counted, the lottery is expected to end the 2020-21 fiscal year with gross revenue of between $ 1.16 billion and $ 1.17 billion. The budget year ended on Wednesday.
During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners renewed casino licenses for four of the state’s five casinos, and auditors concluded that despite a difficult year, all casinos are financially strong.
The auditor in charge of the financial review of The Greenbrier casino has died of a heart attack, and that audit will not be completed until mid-July, the commissioners were informed.
With casinos closed for nearly three months and then required to operate at limited capacity under social distancing protocols for the remainder of 2020, all saw sharp declines in revenues for the 2020 calendar year, although two of the four managed to record small profits, the auditors mentioned.
| Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, where revenue rose from $ 319 million to $ 213 million, and profits rose from $ 38 million to $ 11.1 million.
| Mountaineer Casino, whose revenues grew from $ 99 million to $ 69 million. The casino posted an operating loss of $ 9.2 million after four consecutive profitable years.
| Wheeling Island Casino, which has grown from $ 115 million to $ 68 million, posting a profit of $ 1.5 million in 2020 after four years of average profits of $ 6.8 million per year.
| Mardi Gras Casino, which grew from $ 74 million to $ 47 million, and recorded an operating loss of $ 2.9 million after consecutive profitable years.
As of May 2021, video lottery and table games at the state’s four racetracks brought in a total of $ 371.43 million for the fiscal year. At the same time in May 2019, the last pre-COVID fiscal year, that total was $ 496.18 million.
(Greenbrier Casino was the exception, totaling $ 7.29 million through May 2021, up from $ 6.84 million at the same time in 2019.)
While the vast majority of casino patrons come from out-of-state, playing the Limit video lottery at neighborhood establishments across the state set records for 2020-2021.
As of May, the video lottery grossed $ 440.08 million, up 22% from $ 360.22 million at the same time in 2019, likely due to federal stimulus checks and unemployment bonuses . Limited Video Lottery set all-time monthly records in March and April, surpassing the $ 50 million mark each month.
In May, video lottery revenues fell to $ 45 million.
Year-to-date traditional lottery game revenue of $ 228.6 million is up about 24% from the same point in 2019, thanks to an almost $ 52 million increase in sales scratch tickets, an increase in Myers’ credits to lottery staff.
In response to demand from players, staff have reduced the number of games to $ 1, with an emphasis on more expensive tickets, but with larger and more frequent payouts, he said.
For the month of May, the lottery generated gross revenue of $ 111.44 million, with the state’s share of profit amounting to $ 52.28 million. Since the start of the year, the state’s share of lottery profits is $ 479.76 million.
| Myers said that for two of the past four weeks, racetrack video lottery revenues have exceeded LVL, which he said is an encouraging sign that casinos are starting to rebound.
Historically, racetrack video lottery revenues have greatly exceeded LVL, but the reverse was true during the pandemic.
| Commission Chairman Ken Greear has taken note of data from casinos showing that foreigners continue to constitute the vast majority of customers.
Mardi Gras has the highest percentage of West Virginia customers, at 38%, while Mountaineer, at the tip of the Northern Panhandle, attracts the lowest percentage, at 3%.
Wheeling Island is at 10%, while Hollywood Casino, which relies heavily on the Washington metro area, is at 13%.