WHEELING, W.Va. — State Senate Finance Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso believes there’s new energy to study the impact out-of-state competition has had on Wheeling Island Casino following last week’s legislative interim committee meetings in Wheeling.
A group of state lawmakers heard from casino officials back on Friday. Prezioso told MetroNews after that meeting there had been a good exchange and there would be a full study in the months ahead.
“We’re going to come out of here with some new energy and some openness and transparency and try to put this thing back on a winning path,’ he said.
Wheeling Island has lost millions to newer casinos in other states that pay lower state taxes and fees. The casino is looking to work with lawmakers to come up with a balanced solution. Wheeling Island plans to renew its $2.5 million table games state license by the Tuesday deadline for at least one more year.
Sen. Prezioso, D-Marion, said it’s important for Wheeling Island Casino to be a revenue generator for the state. He said it cannot fail.
“This county cannot afford that, Wheeling cannot afford that. The state of West Virginia, we’re addicted to the revenues,” Prezioso said.
The Senate leadership began working with Wheeling Island on a possible relaxing of its annual licensing fee in the final days of the regular legislative session earlier this year but a deal didn’t get done. Prezioso believes that may have been for the best.
“It’s going to give us an interim session to look at this thing in a logical and orderly manner that we can maybe come forth with some legislation to help these folks out,” he said.
In the meantime, lawmakers urged the casino to work with the state Department Commerce on new signage as travelers get closer to Wheeling and possibly packaging the casino with other events and attractions in the area.