One of the most controversial issues in West Virginia’s legislative session is now on the table. And that issue is table games!
The gambling proposal that would allow full casinos at established race tracks in four counties-- including Kanawha -- has been shot down in the past. Supporters are hoping the odds are in their favor this year -- but the opposition isn't ready to throw in the cards!
Daniel Adkins of the Tri-State Race Track & Gaming Center says, “If we're allowed to become a full casino, we’ll bring in Las Vegas style entertainment. We're looking at creating a 3,000 seat theater, hotel, and spa….a real tourist draw. Other restaurants and businesses benefit from that traffic.” Adkins says a full casino would create five to six thousand new jobs.
A big group rallied at the Capitol, in support of allowing county voters in the four counties that already have a race track to decide whether to allow those tracks to add table games.
But people who are opposed to the idea -- say don't be drawn in by the promise of all those new jobs. House Minority leader Tim Armstead says, “It’s bad to continue to base our state budget on gambling revenue. We should go in the opposite direction -- reduce our reliance on gambling. It’s an unstable revenue source. Other states are looking at same type of gambling- -if & when they do, it’ll put a bigger hole in our state budget.”
Lawmakers who support the bill say that its benefits would extend statewide, with revenue going into police and fire pension funds and deputy funds all over West Virginia.
Gambling opponents are expected to demand a statewide election on table games -- rather than just in the four counties that could open a casino.
A public hearing on table games is planned in the house chamber at 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday, February 1st.