Plan for Gambling Decline Is Critical

West Virginia Lottery Commission officials are taking a realistic view of declining revenue from legalized gambling in our state. But do legislators who have been able to rely on gambling to balance the state’s budget have a plan for continued losses? If so, it is not apparent.

Competition from new casinos in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland held lottery revenue to $1.33 billion during the fiscal year that ended June 30. That is $120 million less than during the previous year.

It could have been worse – another $190 million worse, according to the commission – had construction of a new gambling venue in Youngstown, Ohio, not been held up.

But that casino will open, eventually, and even more revenue will be lost at the two Northern Panhandle casinos.

Again, Lottery Commission officials expect the situation will grow worse. Legislators and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin need to develop a comprehensive budget plan based on a realistic expectation of gambling revenue for the future.