The House Finance Committee heard a presentation from the West Virginia Lottery Commission in a Friday morning meeting, regarding their financial standing and projections for the fiscal years of 2019 and 2020.
John Myers, the Director for the West Virginia Lottery Commission, gave a yearly update and revenue status for the organization, which brought the state $25 billion in gross revenue for the last fiscal year.
Myers cited challenges that the West Virginia Lottery has faced in the past year that have impacted revenues. One major challenge that Myers discussed is the current influx of casinos that neighboring states such as Kentucky and Maryland have embraced, providing competition for West Virginia’s casinos. Another challenge greatly impacting the West Virginia Lottery is the lack of people going into gas and convenience store locations to purchase scratch-off tickets, an activity that provided a lot of momentum for the commission during its peak in 2007.
The West Virginia Lottery Commission is a crucial entity for providing a large portion of their excess revenue via statutory distribution requirements to economic sectors such as higher education and veteran’s affairs. Last year, 32.05 percent of the lottery’s excess funds went to counties and municipalities. Additionally, $400,000 of Lottery excess funds go to Veteran’s Affairs annually.
Despite the financial challenges facing the organization due to multiple socioeconomic factors, the West Virginia Lottery Commission has exceeded their revenue projections so far for this year. According to the State of West Virginia’s Fiscal Year of 2020 Executive Budget Report, the Lottery Commission is due to appropriate around $290 million during the year of 2019, and have an estimated unappropriated balance of $18 million by June 30, 2019.
Myers addressed fears of a failing lottery industry in the state by stating that the West Virginia Lottery Commission was toying with the idea of i-gaming—a forum that would allow the public to access scratch-off tickets and other traditional lottery games online or via an app. No moves have yet been made to pursue this idea in the fiscal years of 2019 or 2020.