The West Virginia Legislature is considering expanding gambling. The location might surprise you.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from Pendleton County farmer Steve Conrad on Thursday. He urged the committee to support Senate bill 492. It would allow expansion of gaming to include a not yet developed site near Franklin.
One of the men behind the project at Fisher Mountain is an auto industry icon Lee Iococca.
“Lee Iococca is part owner of this gaming facility. He, of course, is world renowned with his bailout of Chrysler,” Conrad said. “He looks for rural areas like Pendleton County and has had fantastic success in other facilities.”
Full House Resort currently owns five casinos across the country from Indiana to Nevada, New Mexico to Mississippi. Conrad says the company is very interested in the 1,400 acres available for development at Fisher Mountain. There’s already an 18-hole golf course on site. Full House wants to build a resort with a casino.
“It’s a project that’s been thought completely through. It has a fantastic chance of succeeding,” according to Conrad.
But in order to succeed it will need legislative approval. Currently table games are limited to the state’s four racetracks and the Greenbrier Resort.
Conrad stressed to lawmakers the Fisher Mountain site wouldn’t compete with any of those facilities for gambling dollars. Instead, it would draw in visitors from places like Richmond, Roanoke, Winchester and Lynchburg, VA, as well as Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD.
“When you can take somebody else’s money and bring it into Pendleton County or West Virginia and you can use their assets, it’s really a great idea,” Conrad said.
Fisher Mountain was originally designed as a vacation community back in 2007. But the real estate bubble burst the next year and the project was never revived. Conrad says now that Full House has shown serious interest, a casino/resort employing 300-plus would be a economic blessing for a county that’s struggling when it comes to unemployment.
“Economically we need some relief,” stressed Conrad. “And we think this is the best opportunity we’ve seen in a long time to make that happen.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the bill on to the Senate Finance Committee.