By PHIL KABLER
CHARLSTON, W.Va. — An ongoing decline in state Lottery revenues seems to be slowing, based on revenue collections for the first quarter of the 2017-18 budget year.
From July through September, the Lottery had gross revenue of $276.02 million, down less than 1 percent from the same point in 2016, improving on what has been an ongoing roughly 4 percent annual decline in revenue, spurred by competition from casinos that have opened in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland since 2012.
Overall, the year-to-date revenue is exceeding the Lottery Commission’s projections by $20 million.
The Lottery’s year-to-date numbers have been helped by an upturn in sales of traditional on-line and scratch-offs, up $2.24 million to $45.77 million, spurred by large Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots in August, and by a $2.04 million increase in Limited Video Lottery revenue, now $86.7 million.
LVL revenue has been boosted by a law that went into effect on July 1 increasing the maximum number of machines that a bar or club may operate from five to seven.
As of Sept. 30, a total of 392 locations have added a sixth or seventh machine, with LVL distributors generally moving machines to more productive locations.
Those gains helped offset a $4.78 million quarterly decline in racetrack video lottery revenue, as the four racetracks grossed $132.88 million.
For September, LVL was the only category to see revenue growth, with the $29.34 million up about $480,000 over September 2016. Overall September revenue collections of $88.62 million were down about 1.3 percent from September 2016.
The state’s share of Lottery profits has also remained relatively steady, at $124 million for the first quarter, down about $700,000 from the same point in 2016.
For September, the state’s profit of $40.29 million was down about $20,000 from September 2016.
Meanwhile, the first quarter revenue numbers indicates that the Lottery is on pace to break the $1 billion mark in gross revenue for a 16th consecutive year.
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