Drop in gaming revenue means state must adjust
For about a decade, casinos in West Virginia drew from several neighboring states without much competition.
But those days are coming to an end.
New and expanded gaming operations are up and running in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and the impact is significant.
A couple of years ago, Pennsylvania's casinos began to cut into the business at West Virginia's northern gaming and racetracks in Wheeling and Mountain Park. More recently, competition in Ohio and Maryland have taken their toll.
In particular, the opening of the Maryland Live! casino outside Baltimore in 2012 has had a dramatic effect, The Associated Press reported this weekend, because the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., had long drawn good crowds from the Washington, D.C., market, about 90 minutes away.
Now, table-game revenue at Charles Town is down about 34 percent from the same six-month period a year ago. That alone has meant a loss of $10 million in tax revenue for West Virginia. Overall, revenue from the West Virginia Lottery Commission, which includes both lottery revenue and the more lucrative casino revenue, is down about $25 million or 9 percent for the last six months of 2013.
Maryland has more plans on the horizon.
MGM will open a $925 million resort casino at National Harbor, just across the Potomac River from northern Virginia in 2016.
West Virginia will have to make budget adjustments for these declines and continue to lower expectations for gaming revenue in the future.
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