Liz McCormick Published

House Finance Passes Bill to End Racetrack Modernization Fund


A House committee has advanced a bill that would halt the state-funded updates to casinos and casino games.

House Bill 4271 ends discretionary transfers to the Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund. Proposed on behalf of Governor Tomblin, the bill would end the program that was set to expire in 2020 four years early — putting $9 million a year back into the general revenue budget.

The Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund pays for updates to casino games and without it, Del. Erikka Storch from Ohio County says she’s concerned the state’s four racetrack casinos won’t be able to stay competitive with out-of-state businesses, specifically in the panhandles.

“For the panhandles, we have the added need to attract people, when, you know, a lot of the customer base that Wheeling Island sees is from Ohio. Well we have to still encourage people to come from Ohio as opposed to stopping in Columbus or any of the new facilities that are going up in that area. We want to encourage them to come to West Virginia; spend their dollars here,” Storch said.

There are four major racetracks and casinos in the state; one in Charleston, one in the Eastern Panhandle, and one in the Northern Panhandle which would be directly affected by the legislation.

The bill was reported to the full House Saturday.