NITRO, W.Va. — Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Nitro is being sold.
Delaware North, the owner of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, announced its plans Thursday. The proposal has to receive the approval of both the West Virginia Lottery Commission and West Virginia Racing Commission before becoming final.
Delaware North said the terms of its purchase agreement with the current owner Hartman & Tyner Inc. are not being disclosed.
“As a successful family-run company with a long history of operating exceptional gaming and entertainment venues, including in West Virginia, we’re excited about operating a second casino resort in the state and expanding our portfolio of gaming assets,” Brian Hansberry, president of Delaware North’s gaming business said in a news release. “We look forward to working with Hartman & Tyner and their employees at Mardi Gras toward a smooth transition and in becoming part of the greater Charleston community.”
In a statement, Hartman & Tyner said its decision to enter into the agreement is tied to a recent death.
“After the death of one of its principles, Hartman & Tyner has decided to focus on its core business of multifamily real estate in Michigan. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to operate in this great community for over 25 years. Because it is a family-run company with values similar to ours, Hartman & Tyner is pleased that Delaware North is acquiring Mardi Gras Casino & Resort. We are proud of our history in West Virginia and have every confidence that Delaware North will use its experience and resources to continue Mardi Gras as a premier gaming resort destination,” the statement said.
Delaware North was founded in 1915. The news release said it’s one of the largest privately held hospitality and food service companies in the world.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said that while he’s disappointed Delaware North didn’t contact local officials before announcing its plans, he does believe the change could be positive because of Delaware North’s track record in Wheeling.
“That facility (Wheeling Island) brings in really good acts that aren’t local–they are national,” Carper said.
The more than 700 workers at Mardi Gras are Carper’s top concern, he said.
“Those are very good-paying, valuable jobs. If you disagree with gambling you have a right to do that. I frankly don’t want to fire my neighbor,” Carper said.
Carper said Hartman & Tyner made various promises to Kanawha County when the casino referendum passed several years ago.
“This will be addressed at public comment. I want to make sure that promises they’ve made will eventually be kept,” he said.