A bill floated on behalf of West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin would strip funding from the state’s horse tracks four years earlier than planned, reaping an estimated $9 million a year for the general revenue budget. The Licensed Racetrack Modernization Fund was scheduled to sunset in 2020 if not renewed.
The endangered program fund is used to update casino games at race tracks in the state and keep them competitive with casinos in other nearby states. WV has “panhandles” where the two of the tracks are located, isolated geographically from the rest of the state, and according to opponents of the measure that advanced from committee last week, those casinos need the edge – particularly Wheeling Island who draws much of its business from Ohio.
The bill was reported to the full House Saturday.