West Virginia Lottery Director John Musgrave says he’ll meet with the new management at Wheeling Island Casino next week and hopes to find out if the operation plans to renew its annual table games license by July 1.
The casino has been considering what to do for several months and it suffered a setback in the regular legislative session when state lawmakers passed on a chance to reduce the annual $2.5 million licensing fee by $1 million.
Musgrave says he’ll encourage Wheeling Island to re-up.
“We think that it adds to the casino environment and we think it just gives them another tool to work with,” Musgrave said.
But the casino has been hit hard with competition from new casinos in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Musgrave says there’s no denying the casino’s parent company has lost money at Wheeling. He says table games, unlike video lottery, is very labor intensive.
“The table game revenue (at Wheeling Island) is marginal and to pay two and a half million—they have a business decision to make whether it’s worth it to them or not,” Musgrave said. “We hope that they will.”
The $2.5 million fee from all four racetrack casinos in the state goes right to the Bureau of Senior Services for in-home care for seniors, a very worthy cause according to Musgrave.
The director says there’s much to consider including what would happen if Wheeling Island takes a couple of years off from table games? Would it be able to restart them without another public vote?
“That’s a question that’s been asked,” Musgrave said. “We’re still looking at that issue but at this point we don’t think they would have (to).”