Officials at Wheeling Island Casino are still debating whether to renew its table game license.
“We are not going to immediately react to this,” said outgoing Wheeling Island Casino President Jim Simms. “We are going to do our due diligence and look at the models.”
With increased competition from casinos in nearby Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio and declining revenues, Wheeling Island is finding times to be tough for table games.
“Our profits are down to about a third of what they were when we first had table games coming in. That’s a pretty significant drop,” said Simms. “Our table games volume is probably about 35 percent of what it originally was.”
On top of the increased competition and declining revenue, Simms says West Virginia boasts the highest tax on table games at 35 percent. That is compared to 33 percent in Ohio and 12 to 16 percent in Pennsylvania.
According to Simms, with a $2.5 million state licensing fee and declining revenues, Wheeling Island is looking at an effective tax rate on table games of around 65 percent.
This is where Senate Bill 615 would have helped in that the table games licensing fee would have been lowered to $1.5 million. The bill died in the state legislature.
“We were looking to see if we could get some short-term relief to see if there was a way of maybe mitigating some of this so we could confidently renew our license in July,” said Simms.
Now with seemingly little help from the Legislature, Simms said they have to go back to the drawing board.
“We’ve got to stop and do the math on this. Look at the trend of the revenue declines. Look at what kind of losses we would incur moving forward to see what the tolerance level would be,” said Simms. “And then assess what the overall business model would look like with or without (table games) them.”
Simms said this isn’t the first time they have dealt with increasing competition and changing times. They will just adjust like they have in the past.