‘The Time Is Now’ To Open West Virginia Casinos And Other Essential Businesses

Posted on April 30, 2020

Senate members in West Virginia issued a letter to Gov. Jim Justice regarding the state’s plans to “open for business.”

Several Republicans, including Sen. Mike Maroney and Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, sent a letter to Justice urging that the state start to reopen.

While a lot of states within the US still have some sort of “stay-at-home” orders in place, others are beginning the process of opening up certain types of business.

Since the Mountain State hasn’t been affected nearly as bad as other areas of the country, some state leaders think it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Both Maroney and Takubo are actually physicians. They, along with many others, want normalcy returning to the state sooner than later.

Senate Majority Whip, Ryan Weld, is in the same boat. According to The Intelligencer, Weld said:

“The time is now to begin planning. We have to be cautious, and we have to take into consideration the advice of medical experts as we begin planning over the next couple of weeks.”

The five retail WV casinos were shut down more than a month ago when Justice implemented the executive order.

Although COVID-19 is still affecting many in the US, daily cases are decreasing regularly. Since WV was not hit as hard as other locations in the country, it could conceivably be one of the first back up and running.

Opening WV casinos and other non-essential businesses

It’s a very difficult time for leaders in every state in the US. Getting residents back to work is essential, but so is keeping everyone healthy and out of harm’s way.

Of course, opening businesses back up will help the nation’s economy, however, is it worth the risk if the coronavirus continues to spread?

Although the WV leadership that wrote this letter to Justice preach taking precaution, parts of the message don’t. The letter reads:

“I have spoken with business leaders, colleagues in the Legislature, and most importantly, many constituents. Although opinions vary, the vast majority are very concerned that new rules and regulations will be an overreaction and the pendulum will swing too far in the direction of undue restrictions. In other words, there is a very real fear that further drastic changes will adversely affect West Virginia businesses and all West Virginians.”

While the financial ramifications of the coronavirus are substantial and only growing, health will always be more important. If businesses don’t take proper safety measures and another outbreak occurs, the state will be worse off than now.

The message to the governor continued:

“If we do make drastic changes, West Virginia will be at risk for significant long-term unemployment and a substantial decrease in state revenue, which would lead to a loss of vital state programs that benefit so many throughout our state. If this were to happen, the unemployment, poverty, and hopelessness brought on by COVID-19 may have the potential to create more havoc in West Virginia than the disease itself.”

Although they make a point, there’s no way a pandemic virus that’s claimed thousands of American lives can be understated. WV and every other state in the country should return back to normal at a pace that prioritizes everyone’s health.

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Impact on WV sportsbooks and casinos

WV sportsbooks and casinos would be two businesses directly impacted when and how the state reopens.

Since there are no mobile casino apps in WV just yet, all casino revenue comes from retail casino operations. Sports wagering can still be conducted on the three WV online sportsbooks available:

It makes sense that casino operators would be in favor of getting people back on the gaming floor as fast as possible. Not to mention, the state budget could certainly use some of the gambling revenue that it was getting prior to the shutdown.

And although online sports betting exists, three of the five WV casinos don’t feature a mobile sportsbook:

  • Mountaineer Casino
  • Mardi Gras
  • Wheeling Island

All three need retail wagering to return in order to see any profits. Even if they do open, they still will be missing one key component for sports betting – sports.

The reality is that opening up too quickly could prove to be detrimental.

In spite of the letter sent to Justice, it seems likely that casinos will need to take plenty of caution when they open. This may include fewer seats, tables, and slots to help encourage more social distancing.

Chris Imperiale Avatar
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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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