Sports betting remains on track for football season
Everything remains on pace for sports betting to launch at West Virginia casinos at, or near, the start of football season this fall, state Lottery director Alan Larrick said Tuesday.
“We’re optimistic we can get it done,” Larrick said following Tuesday’s Lottery Commission meeting. “If we miss it by a week or two, so be it. We’re not going with it until we know we’re ready.”
Currently, he said, “All the casinos are working on building out their sportsbooks.”
Sportsbooks are lounge areas within casinos featuring electronic display boards showing games and odds, multiple televisions for viewing games, and betting windows.
Lottery Commissioners, who approved emergency rules for sports betting last week, took a nother step toward the launch Tuesday, approving two independent testing laboratories to certify sports betting equipment.
Also Tuesday, The Greenbrier announced that it had retained FanDuel to provide on-site and mobile sports betting at the resort casino.
Larrick said the legislation passed in March legalizing sports betting in West Virginia gives the state casinos broad authority to contract with sports betting service providers.
“Each casino can pick whoever they want to run their sports betting,” Larrick said. “We’ve left that up to the casinos.”
Also during Tuesday ’s commission meeting:
• An ongoing upturn in sales of traditional scratchoff and on-line games, and in Limited Video Lottery at 1,302 bars, clubs and fraternal organizations around the state continued to offset declining revenues at the five casinos, helping the state Lottery break the $1 billion sales mark for the 16th consecutive year.
Through May, the Lottery had gross revenue of $998.7 million, up $7.72 million from the same point in 2017. That means Lottery revenues broke the $1 billion mark at some point this month, which will be reported in July.
In May, traditional game sales of $15.4 million were up $1.3 million, or 9 percent, from May 2017.
May Limited Video Lottery revenues of $31.97 million were up $1.9 million from May 2017, reflecting increased revenue from legislation increasing the maximum number of LVL machines permitted in bars and clubs from five to seven.
Those gains offset $1.63 million of declining revenue in May for racetrack video lottery, and a $290,000 drop in table games revenue at the state’s casinos.
For May, the state’s share of Lottery profits was $44.7 million, down slightly from May 2017. Year-to-date state Lottery profits total $461.2 million, up about $100,000 from the same point in 2017.
• Lottery Commissioners approved re-licensing of the state’s five casinos for the 2018-19 budget year. Racetrack casino licenses are $2.5 million a year, while The Greenbrier casino license is $500,000 a year.
Despite competition from casinos in neighboring states, parent companies of four of the five casinos reported profits in the past year, Dean Patrick, deputy director of finance and administration, told the commission.
The exception was The Greenbrier, whose casino reported operating losses of $884,000 in the past year. Patrick said that deficit was “considerably less” than past years at the resort casino.
″ The Green brier has always been big on complimentaries,” he said, noting that The Greenbrier casino functions more as an amenity for hotel guests than as a profit center.
Patrick noted The Greenbrier is still dealing with losses sustained from the 2016 flood, and said it has collected $38 million in insurance claims for property damage and business interruption, adding, “I know there’s considerably more outstanding.”
Gov. Jim Justice, owner of the resort, has complained in press conferences about difficulties getting insurance companies to pay claims for flood damages at the resort.
The parent company of The Greenbrier, the Justice Family Group, reported nearly $18 million in losses on $149 million of gross revenue, Patrick said.
“As it stands right now, they’re liquid,” he said of the holding company.
“We’re optimistic we can get it done. If we miss it by a week or two, so be it. We’re not going with it until we know we’re ready.”