Posted: Feb. 13, 2017
The West Virginia Racing Commission is preparing legislation that would legalize advance deposit wagering, but at a Feb. 10 meeting said received it approval from the governor to move ahead with a bill that would give it a percentage of revenue racetracks and horsemen receive from signal transmission fees.
The meeting was the first for two new members appointed by Democratic Gov. Jim Justice, who was elected last November. They are Ken Lowe Jr., an Eastern Panhandle businessman, Thoroughbred owner, and former president of the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and Anthony Figaretti, a Northern Panhandle businessman who has worked with Justice on tourism matters.
They replace Bill Phillips, who represented the WVRC on the Association of Racing Commissioners International board of directors, and Greg McDermott. Jack Rossi remains on the racing commission as chairman of the three-member panel.
As for the ADW bill, WVRC Executive Director Joe Moore said the commission is working with industry stakeholders on the language. Kelli Talbott, Senior Deputy Attorney General for the WVRC, noted that the Charles Town HBPA and management at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races have been discussing their own plan for ADW.
“We’ll be looking at this to make sure we come up with the best product,” Talbott said.
The legislation on signal transmission fees would grant the WVRC 10% of total revenue that is usually split between the track and its horsemen’s group from imported signals. Moore said that would amount to roughly $500,000 from Charles Town and $400,000 from Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, and lesser amounts from the state’s two Greyhound tracks.
Based on a 50-50 split, horsemen at the two Thoroughbred tracks combined would give up about $500,000 in purse revenue. Moore said the funds would equate to three live racing programs at Charles Town and two at Mountaineer.
Other racing commission bills that won approval from the governor’s office include one that would double daily license fees paid by tracks—from $250 to $500 for Thoroughbred tracks and $150 to $300 for dog tracks—and another that would grant the commission more statutory flexibility in awarding or changing racing dates.
(Charles Town photo by Tom LaMarra)