W.Va. Lottery Surviving Despite Increased Competition

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The state of West Virginia has been relying more on lottery revenue to help keep its books balanced.

For the last few years, revenue has been on the rise -- until now.

With the competition heating up in states like Ohio and Maryland, the West Virginia Lottery just wants to hang on and keep going strong. That means there will be more opportunities to hit the jackpot.

The West Virginia Lottery is preparing to celebrate its 24th anniversary

"With that anniversary, we'll be announcing total sales of 24 years of something like $14.5 billion," said Nancy Bulla with the West Virginia Lottery. "Of that the state has benefited from $5.4 billion."

Even with that big billion dollar number, the state may not see as great of returns, negatively affecting programs that get a cut of the lottery proceeds.

"We were down a bit but we were still $20 million ahead of projections and, if you look at the economic climate and our border competition for the tracks, we seem to have balances that come in from month to month, year to year," Bulla said.

Recently the recession has even hurt some race tracks and casinos.

"Even though we may be seeing a little bit of a turn down now," casino owner Dan Adkins said. "The state and the impact on the state, I feel strongly that the Legislature will work with the lottery and work with the race tracks and industry in the state to continue to be a leader as it relates to gaming."

That would mean less reliance on lottery revenue, especially if it doesn't pick back up.

"Lately when we've had new things, new programs, we tend to rely on the lottery to fund those," state budget Director Mike McKown said. "If it starts flattening out, that puts more stress on the general fund which consists of sales tax and personal income tax."

To ease the worry and raise more money the lottery is trying something new.

"It looks like we'll be offering Mega Millions in addition to Powerball, that's two big jackpots," Bulla said.

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