The social distancing guidelines designed to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak has led to the shutdowns of casinos and video slots throughout the United States. The West Virginia Lottery (WGL) is currently reporting a decline of over $38 million a month in lost revenues based on previous trends.
West Virginia has two casinos, both of which were closed due to COVID-19. If the shutdowns extend further, many expect a serious negative impact on the funding of senior and education services in the state.
WGL’s assistant director Randy Burnside said that one bright spot for the WGL is that it has completed all bond obligations for the current fiscal year. Before the shutdowns, Burnside stated that their revenues were well above projected amounts. The cushion will help the WGL defray any negative impact on services that depend on their revenues, at least until the end of April.
The larger than expected returns of West Virginia’s recent introduction of their gambling industry has been a key contributor to the state’s roster of social programs tasked with helping the most vulnerable sectors of their population. The state has since developed a robust social net for its senior citizens and its students due to the taxes brought in by the Lottery.
Protections for Winning Tickets during State of Emergency
Governor Jim Justice’s order to stay at home as well as his banning of gatherings of more than five people has led to the closure of the Wheeling Island Hotel and Casino, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town, Mountaineer Casino and Resort in Chester, and the Mardis Gras In Cross Lane’s.
One effect directly related to this order is that the current time required to process winning lottery tickets is being extended, due to the WGL’s recent policy of accepting them through mail.
Burnside noted that due to West Virginia’s state of emergency, players with winning tickets that expire during this period will have up to 180 days from the draw date or the conclusion of the game to collect their winnings.
According to Burnside, if a player submits their winning ticket via mail or in person at the WGL’s office within 30 days of the lifting of the state of emergency, the WGL will honor their commitment and pay out the appropriate prize. The same courtesy will also be extended to video lottery tickets that expired during the same period.
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