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West Virginia: Good News, Bad News On VLTs

Posted On: 4/12/2011

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video lottery terminal, VLT, West Virginia lottery, video poker

CHARLESTON, WV -- Operators of video lottery terminals in the Mountaineer State have seen revenues rebound to historic norms in recent months, suggesting the economy is strengthening sufficiently to encourage customers to play more often.

February's overall lottery revenues rose 11% from the prior month to $119.66 million, which is 18% higher than February 2010.

Yet the changeover to new 10-year licenses for VLT locations and machines may trigger a temporary shutdown of hundreds of the state's 7,852 terminals for at least two weeks, and possibly more, according to the Charleston Gazette.

The new licenses take effect July 1, but West Virginia Lottery officials said it will be impossible to get all VLTs up and running under the new licenses by then. There are 16,000 VLT locations statewide, but the Lottery's central computer system can only activate 10 retail locations a day.

Every week that VLTs are shut down could cost the state more than $7.5 million in revenues, and millions more to operators and locations.

The shutdown also could lead to loss of licenses for some current locations, as well as fewer licensed machines in the system. Some locations may be free to jettison their VLT operators and purchase their own used machines to fill the gap, too.

Lottery officials delilvered the bad news at a VLT manufacturers' expo at the Charleston Civic Center in late March.

West Virginia launched video lottery in 2001 with 10-year licenses for operators, giving them the rights to run VLTs in specific, authorized locations. This is the first time in the system's history that license renewals have occurred.

As reported earlier by Vending Times, some VLT operators sued the state last year, claiming unfairness in license bidding procedures. | SEE STORY