IN the early 1990s, state officials allowed its four racetracks to add slot machines - and the money poured in from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Maryland.
Inevitably neighboring states caught on and they opened their own casinos. West Virginia's cash cow won't be supplying as much milk.
This is making some people nervous. Standard & Poor's just put the state on notice of a possible downgrading in two years of the rating of the lottery-backed bonds issued by the Economic Development and School Building authorities.
That's fair warning and there is plenty of time for lawmakers and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to adjust spending and protect the state's creditworthiness, which keeps its borrowing costs down.
A look at lottery finances shows the size of this task.
According to its annual report, in the fiscal year 2012, the lottery distributed: