First State gaming revenues hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic
Delaware’s lottery revenues are drying up during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the First State’s three casinos closed, Delaware Lottery Director Vernon Kirk said the state is losing about 75 percent of its normal lottery income.
“No table games. No video lottery or slot machines. No sports betting. Those are big numbers for us for the month of April,” Kirk said. “This started mid-March and the month of April. Those revenues are zero."
Kirk noted that in March 2019 net proceeds from slots and other video lottery games was nearly $39 million. This March - as the pandemic started - it fell to $22 million before disappearing completely in April. hose losses are the primary reason the latest state revenue estimate trimmed $46 million off Delaware’s projected lottery revenue for this year.
Retail sales for drawings and scratch off tickets have taken a lesser hit, despite having about 100 retailers who normally sell them closed. They’re down about $700,000 per week.
One bright spot according to Kirk is iGaming. It is is up, though it is a modest slice of the state’s lottery pie.
“Even though those [numbers] are going up significantly, we did over $500,000 in net gaming revenue for the month of March which is our highest March or probably our highest month ever,” Kirk said.
Kirk expects iGaming will continue to increase over the next few weeks as casinos remain closed.
Kirk adds that with casinos closed the state has found work to keep gaming inspectors employed. He says they've been moved over to the Division of Revenue and trained to help work on a back-log of corporate income tax returns. That alllows he inspectors to still get a paycheck and Division of Revenue gets help that it needs.