Liz McCormick Published

Tomblin Seeks to End Special Casino Fund


The state’s budget is always the final bill approved by lawmakers before they end their legislative work for the year. But even though that vote won’t come until the end of March, members of the House Finance Committee are already looking for ways to deal with declining revenues. On Wednesday, they focused in on lottery funds.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission has generated 22.1 billion dollars since it was created in 1985. More than 8 billion dollars of that revenue has gone to support senior programs, education and tourism.

Representatives of the Lottery Commission presented their budget to the House Finance Committee Wednesday morning, and discussed ways the Legislature could help the industry be more competitive with surrounding states while helping to balance the budget by the end of the 2016 session.

Lawmakers also discussed the future of the Racetrack Modernization Fund. Lottery revenues each year are set aside in the fund to help casinos pay for updated video lottery games, helping to keep them competitive with out-of-state casinos.

However, Governor Tomblin’s Cabinet Secretary Bob Kiss says the Racetrack Modernization Fund will be going away.

“The Modernization Fund, which is going to expire anyway even under current law, is not something that was ever intended to be in place permanently; I’m sure you can hear different opinions, but the governor believes that it can be ended now, and we’ll make a proposal to do so,” Kiss explained.

Instead of relying on the Modernization Fund, Acting Director John Myers, says the lottery commission is looking for novel ways to generate new revenue. Things like online poker and a smartphone-based iLottery.

No legislation was proposed during Wednesday’s House Finance meeting, but lawmakers say they will be thinking of ways they can improve the state’s revenue through the lottery commission.