With a new law on the books allowing bars and clubs with video lottery machines to add more of them, the state Lottery Commission on Thursday approved a plan to bid out 750 additional limited video lottery permits.
The 2001 law legalizing video lottery in bars and clubs around the state allowed permits for up to 9,000 machines, but only 6,776 machines are now in operation.
Danielle Boyd, managing general counsel for the West Virginia Lottery, said the legislation (HB 3106) requires the Lottery to bid out unclaimed limited video lottery permits to current permit-holders. Previously, one establishment could only have five machines; under the new law, an establishment can have up to seven machines.
Without discussion, commissioners approved Boyd’s recommendation to take bids on 750 permits, with a bid opening scheduled for Aug. 2.
The minimum bid will be $2,000, which is $1,000 lower than the minimum bid set when the 10-year video lottery licenses were last rebid in 2011. Boyd said that’s because the new permits, which will be issued by Sept. 1, will expire in four years. Also, she said, video lottery retailers have recently had to spend money to convert existing machines so they can communicate with the Lottery’s new central computer system.
In 2011, the average amount of winning bids for each limited video lottery permit was about $9,000.
If bidders claim all 750 permits, the plan approved Thursday would provide an option for permit holders to obtain additional licenses by matching the winning bid amounts.
Lottery officials have estimated the higher maximum number of machines will produce $10 million to $12 million a year of additional revenue.
Meanwhile, Lottery gross revenue for March of $98 million was down nearly $2 million from March 2016, with sales of traditional online and scratch off games down about $1.2 million and racetrack video lottery revenues down about $830,000.
Year-to-date, Lottery gross revenues of $808.32 million is down about $48 million from the same point in 2016, with traditional game sales down $20.31 million, racetrack video lottery down $12.86 million, and Limited Video Lottery off by $11.32 million. Table game revenue at the racetrack casinos is also down about 8.5 percent, at $29.93 million.