CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s decision to remove one word from the new state budget will keep money from casino gambling pouring into the greyhound racing purse fund.
When Tomblin signed the budget bill into law last Friday he used his line-item veto power to remove the word “thoroughbred” from the budget. The move means money that had been removed by lawmakers from the greyhound racing fund can now return there.
“With this money restored it doesn’t appear at least that we will be out of business on July 1,” Charleston attorney, greyhound industry lobbyist, Alan Pritt said Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “The greyhounds will be able to run.”
Lawmakers reduced the purse fund anywhere from $2.5 million to $4 million. They did so by creating an illegal account, Pritt said.
“What they can’t do is try to name a fund that doesn’t exist and place money into that fund that doesn’t exist,” he said. “The Thoroughbred Regular Purse Fund does not exist.”
That’s what Tomblin said in his line-item veto message.
The issue of the future of greyhound racing will likely continue to come up before the legislature. Pritt said that’s why he wants lawmakers to regulate online betting to generate more revenue.
“We want to propose legislation in the next regular session for advance deposit wagering and for other potential revenues to come into the state, come into the purse fund,” Pritt said.
State code connects the operation of the casinos to live racing. Without it, casinos cannot operate. There has been proposed legislation that would decouple the industries.