It’s unlikely the House will take up a bill recently passed by the Senate to cut fees related to table games at West Virginia’s four racetrack/casinos.
“I’ve received an overwhelming number of calls from delegates who are opposed to the bill,” said House Judiciary Committee Chair Tim Miley, D-Harrison.
The bill (SB 615) would lower table game licensing fees from $2.5 million to $1.5 million for three state racetracks, Zack wrote earlier this week. Wheeling Island Racetrack and Casino is the only entity to say it cannot afford to renew its table game license at the current $2.5 million yearly rate.
The measure passed the Senate by a 24 to 10 vote partisan vote, with each Republican opposes the measure. It was originally on the agenda for the House Judiciary Committee meeting Friday, but Miley said before the meeting he wouldn’t bring it up fort discussion.
He said he put it on the agenda to gauge the level of interest on the bill; if there was any support, it would still need to go to the finance committee before the full House could take a vote. But overwhelmingly both Democrats and Republicans in the House told Miley they weren’t taken with the bill.
“As it turns out, I don’t think there’s enough votes to pass it out of my committee. Moreover, I’m not even sure there are enough votes to pass it on the floor, so why spend time on a bill that there’s not sufficient support for?” Miley said.
Some delegates didn’t like the idea of giving casinos a break on fees, Miley said. Others are opposed to any funding that supports gambling.
He also said “in private conversations” some question whether the Wheeling casino actually needs the break. The casino could be operating under the idea that table games will lose money, but bring people in to the casino to spend more money elsewhere, he said.
“Often times you have loss leaders in a business to get people in there, to spend money in other areas that do make a profit,” Miley said.
The governor’s prison reform is a different story. Although both House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, and Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanwha, recently expressed doubts about the judicial reinvestment measure, Miley said stakeholders are making progress.
“I was in some meetings this morning with the speaker, the minority leader and members of the governor’s office. And I think we’ve all come to an agreement about what changes need to be made,” Miley said.
“I don’t want to share those with you yet because I need to see them in writing. We talked about the proposed changes conceptually to address everyone’s concerns. But the hope is that we can deal with everyone’s concerns in such a way that the bill passes out of here with bipartisan support,” Miley continued.
Miley was confident the bill would come before his committee no later than Tuesday, although there’s an outside chance it could be ready Monday.