For the third time, West Virginia legislators are attempting to pass SB 62 to allow racetrack casinos to open up satellite West Virginia casinos. The Senate took a vote, and the bill passed 25-8 in favor of SB 62.
The current active racetracks involved in the bill include:
- Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
- Mardi Gras Casino and Resort
- Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort
- Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack
Essentially, this bill will allow these racetracks to open up a mini-casino within their properties as long as they remain within the confines of the host’s county.
What is a satellite casino?
A satellite casino is kind of like a mini-casino. Normally, you would think of a casino as a building with tons of slot machines and table games.
The major difference between a regular casino and a satellite casino is the size. The latter will have fewer slot machines, fewer table games, and a smaller overall property as well.
Mini-casinos will house between 300 and 700 slot machines and 20 to 30 table games, if any. On a bigger scale, regular casinos have between 1,500 and 3,000 slot machines and 30 to 100 table games.
Additionally, these mini-casinos contain a lot more video lottery terminals (VLTs), which have become popular across the nation.
Some counties in Missouri are also eager to participate, including Kanawha, Ohio, Hancock, and Jefferson.
Legal West Virginia satellite casinos still have a long way to go
Even though the vote was favorable, the bill in question has a ways to go before the law is passed. The first step was to make it through the Senate; then the bill must pass the House of Delegates. And finally, the operators involved are required to apply, followed by a vote within the county.
While SB 62 has advanced to the next step, it’s the same part of the process that killed the bill when it was going through legislation in 2019 and 2022. The House of Delegates put a stop to it in the past, but Sen. Eric Nelson seems to think this time will be different.
The legislative session goes through March 11, so an answer will be given either way.
Benefits of mini-casinos in West Virginia
Mini-casinos would certainly benefit the state in terms of revenue and tax going toward public education and benefiting the community.
Should approval go through for satellite casinos, the companies will also have the ability to set up VLTs and other licensed gambling products that will increase revenue.
In addition to increasing revenue, the bill will help create jobs in struggling counties. “I think this is another way of looking at economic development in the four counties that currently have racetracks,” said Nelson.