CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill introduced Thursday in the House of Delegates would allow the state’s four racetracks to open one satellite casino in the same county in which they are located.
HB 2901 is supported by the West Virginia Racing Association. President John Cavacini said Delaware North, the company that owns both Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos, would like to open a satellite location at the Highlands just outside of Wheeling.
“It would be a building that houses some forms of gaming but will not have a racetrack and will not have a hotel,” Cavacini said during an appearance Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
State law requires racing and hotel accommodations in order to be a full-fledged casino in the Mountain State. The satellite location would offer video slots, table games, sports betting and possibly simulcast racing, Cavacini said.
Casino said Delaware North is concerned about a loss of traffic at the Wheeling Island location from annual flooding and the pending major construction work on the Interstate 70 bridges. He said the bill is not meant to “cannibalize” Wheeling Island. He said language has already been worked out to keep the money that is allocated to the City of Wheeling the same after the Highlands location opens. The Highlands is located in Ohio County but not in Wheeling.
There’s been no specific site at the Highlands chosen, Cavacini said.
The bill has the support of the owners of the other racetracks in the state.
“As long as the language is in the bill that says that this pertains to any licensee of a para-mutual license–that they have the opportunity to put a location in–all the other tracks are on board,” according to Cavacini, who added none of the other track owners have expressed an interest in satellite locations at this time.
The bill was assigned Thursday to both the judiciary and finance committees in the House. House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Househoulder, R-Berkeley, is one of the bill’s sponsors. Cavacini is hopeful the bill makes it on a committee agenda.
“I think the speaker (House Speaker Roger Hanshaw) has given instructions to his committee chairmen as what they see as a potential revenue source to the state of West Virginia they could run those bills,” Cavacini said.