By Tom LaMarra
Legislation authorizing advance deposit wagering is on the wish list for a group of racing industry stakeholders in West Virginia, according to a report that was approved by a committee and accepted by the West Virginia Racing Commission Oct. 19.
The stakeholders’ committee was formed earlier this year to make recommendations on how the racing industry, both Thoroughbred and Greyhound, can increase revenue in the wake of state-mandated reductions in the amount of money racing gets from racetrack-based video lottery terminals.
The report notes that West Virginia residents can wager online or by telephone on races throughout the country but not on races run in the state. “Because it is not allowed and monitored in West Virginia, the state does not receive the benefits in terms of taxable (ADW) revenue,” the report states.
In an attempt to recapture tens of millions of dollars in VLT revenue that has been shifted to other state programs, the committee recommends that purse and breed development fund percentages be restored to pre-2014 levels. It also wants restored a percentage of revenue that has been diverted to fund workers’ compensation programs in the state for almost 10 years; the debt is projected to be fulfilled in 2016.
“Restoration of the purse fund to this extent would provide some certainty to investors—racetracks; small business owners; Thoroughbred and Greyhound breeders, owners, and trainers; and veterinarians and other entities who have an economic impact on our communities,” the report states. “These investors and employers cannot function as a viable business or maintain a stable business model in an unstable, annually appropriated environment.”
The committee also said the WVRC required adequate financial support. The recommendation is to “utilize a small portion of lottery administrative funds by amending (state code) as it relates to the distribution of lottery and table games funds. The commission currently receives no share of gaming revenue, the report states.
On the subject of live racing dates, the committee said state code should be changed to allow the WVRC more flexibility in setting schedules each year depending on market conditions. Under current law Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races must apply for 220 live dates and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort 210 dates each year.