Audit: West Virginia casinos in good shape despite losses

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia’s casinos are in sound financial condition, despite growing across-the-border competition that has cost them millions of dollars in revenue, an audit has found.

The five casinos lost more than $140 million total between the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years, according to the audit by the Charleston accounting firm Gibbons and Kawash. The audit’s findings were presented to the West Virginia Lottery Commission on Monday, media outlets reported.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races experienced the largest decline, with revenue dropping from $546 million in fiscal 2012 to about $456 million in fiscal 2013.

During the same period, Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort’s revenue fell from $197 million to $175 million. Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack’s revenue declined from $140 million to $115 million. Mardi Gras Hotel & Casino’s revenue dropped from $44 million to about $40 million.

The casino at The Greenbrier’s revenue remained at about $12.9 million.

Casino revenues were hurt by competition from new casinos in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the audit said.

“Probably the most obvious things we noted in our review of racetracks and casinos is the effects of competition on at least three of the racetracks and casinos,” Tim Gibbons of the accounting firm told the Lottery Commission. “Charles Town, for instance, was down $90 million for the year ended 2013. Wheeling was down $25 million and Mountaineer was down $22 million for the year 2013.”

Still, Gibbons said the casinos have strong balance sheets and should be relicensed.

The Lottery Commission unanimously voted to reissue table game licenses to all five casinos. The casinos have until July 1 to pay a relicensing fee.

Lottery Director John Musgrave said the casinos need to increase efforts to promote themselves as destination resorts, and to offer new and innovative gaming options.

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