West Virginia State Lottery Mulls Online Operations

Increasing out-of-state competition spurs consideration of online and mobile wagering

Worried by out-of-state gambling competition, the West Virginia State Lottery is giving serious consideration to the introduction of online and mobile wagering and gaming facilities.
Lottery director John Musgrave told members of the state Lottery Commission Tuesday that officials met with state land casino executives and their technical staff last month to discuss potential intrastate online gaming options.
A second discussion has been planned for October this year, he said, adding: "We're still exploring because we feel that's the way the industry's moving, so we want to plan for it.
"We have not yet made any decision for how we're going to implement it, but we are looking at it, studying it and seeing how our casinos in our jurisdiction can move in that direction."
Musgrave said online gambling options could help stave off the continued erosion of lottery revenue from the state's four racetrack casinos, which are suffering from competition from new out-of-state operations in Maryland and Ohio.
The lottery director said the state Lottery posted total revenue of $101.1 million for the month of July, down 4 percent from the $105.4 million collected in July 2013. Racetrack video lottery from the state's four racetrack casinos declined nearly 5 percent from last year to $51.1 million for the month.
The lifting of non-smoking bans in other states could also impact West Virginia revenues, he said.
Musgrave says that introducing online and mobile betting on the lottery could be introduced without legislative changes to state law, but that going further would clearly require the state Legislature's approval.
The lottery director appeared to be particularly keen on the possibilities for a mobile app.
He emphasised that any changes had to be sensitive to the needs of the existing retail ticket sellers in convenience stores throughout the state.

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