February, 29, 2016
Tom LaMarra, Blood-Horse

Racing interests and their legislative representatives plan a rally March 1 at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston to combat bills that call for the decoupling of live racing from gaming.

The Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. EST “to showcase the impact the horseracing industry has on the regions where it operates” and the state overall.

Meanwhile, those in the greyhound racing industry who took part in an anti-decoupling news conference at Wheeling Island Hotel Casino & Racetrack Feb. 28 said they plan to have representatives at the Capitol March 1 as well.

A Senate bill would defund and decouple—remove the requirement that tracks offer live racing to keep their gaming operations—dog racing, which is held at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras West Virginia near Charleston. Legislation offered last year would have phased out greyhound racing, but owners and breeders would have benefited from a “buyout” arrangement.

The Senate bill indicates Thoroughbred racing, held at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, would continue to be funded by revenue from video lottery terminals and table games. A House bill, however, would defund dog and horse racing.

The horse industry said more than 5,300 people in Jefferson and Hancock counties, where Charles Town and Mountaineer, respectively, are located, are employed in racing and breeding. It also noted that gaming at tracks was authorized by county referendums based on preserving racing and breeding in the state.