Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie predicted the state will face serious hard times as competition for gambling dollars ramps up with out-of-state casinos.
A bill that would have cut the table games license fee for the state’s racinos by $1 million failed to win approval in Charleston. Wheeling Island previously indicated if the measure didn’t pass, the facility would not renew its table games permit for the coming year.
“That would mean the loss of 150 jobs,” said McKenzie. “Plus the loss of revenue of table games, video lottery and the hotel, and racing. This could be a multi-million dollar loss for the state of West Virginia.”
He predicted Wheeling Island is only the start. McKenzie said at least two of the state’s other three racinos are also in dire straights financially and may lose out to competition across state lines.
“The state of West Virginia receives hundreds of millions of dollars from table games and track revenue,” he said. “Because of those, West Virginians have paid less taxes than they would have over the last 10 to 12 years. Those days are going to be gone and as the tracks have more competition, I think there’s going to be greater demand on the citizens of West Virginia to pay more taxes.”
Wheeling Island is in the process of changing management and hasn’t reacted to the demise of the table games legislation.