More on West Virginia table games from the West Virginia Gazette: (For the record, Democrats hold roughly a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate of the WV state legislature.)
Bring jobs and revenue
WEST Virginia�s state government needs more revenue to offset the ruinous $10 billion deficit that has grown in pension systems and the Workers� Compensation Fund.
Kanawha County needs more jobs to offset thousands that have been lost in the chemical industry, glass plants, coal mining and other fields.
Both revenue and jobs might be gained if the Tri-State greyhound track and video gambling palace at Cross Lanes were allowed to become a full casino through the addition of table games � blackjack, roulette, poker, dice, baccarat, etc.
Gov. Wise hinted that he might call a special legislative session in December � the final major action of his governorship � to let the state�s four racetracks add table games, if local voters approve. If Wise doesn�t do it, Statehouse insiders think incoming Gov. Joe Manchin might back the concept in January. Republican legislators mostly oppose the plan. Kanawha�s three county commissioners also oppose it, and think Kanawha voters would reject it.
We realize that 1984 voters who approved the state Lottery never dreamed it would expand into many new types of wagering. And we realize that gambling has a downside, especially if modest-income folks get hooked and blow their paychecks.
However, it�s a fact of life that betting is enormously popular, and millions of Americans gladly throw their money into games designed to take more than they give. Many players would return to old-style illegal �racket� wagering if states didn�t provide clean, honest, revenue-producing games.
Gambling revenue has become a pillar of government nearly everywhere in America. Last year, the West Virginia Lottery netted about $1.2 billion from players. Of this profit, $624 million went to proprietors of clubs, stores and racetracks, about $20 million went to city and county governments, some went for administrative overhead, and $512 million went to the state.
It�s a shame that tracks and proprietors take the biggest share of lottery proceeds. Perhaps the system eventually can be changed, requiring hosts to bid, offering to take smaller slices of the earnings from state machines.
Meanwhile, for now, table games would up the ante, making Tri-State and the three other tracks � at Wheeling, Chester and Charles Town � bigger �destination attractions,� drawing fans from a wide region. More state revenue and more jobs would result.
Last year, Ted Arneault of the Chester track estimated that adding table games would create 1,800 good-paying jobs statewide and boost revenue 20 percent.
Therefore, we hope that either Wise or Manchin launches the effort, and the Legislature approves, and local voters go for it.