Wheeling Island Casino’s Game Changer Program Makes Life-changing Impact

Written By Darren Cooper on June 12, 2023
Wheeling Island Casino makes positive impact with Game Changer program.

A jackpot win on a slot machine or a trifecta hit at the track at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack can be life-altering. The legendary casino can change lives in other ways, too.

Through its community-oriented Game Changer program, Wheeling Island donates to numerous worthwhile causes throughout the region. It most recently gave $17,966 to the United Way of Upper Ohio Valley to benefit local children and families.

There are signs promoting Game Changer on the casino floor that highlight the charity for the month and encourage gifts. The program started in 2020 and has raised just over $165,000 to date, said David Morris, regional director of marketing for Wheeling Island.

“Establishing programs such as Game Changer allows us to demonstrate our commitment to social responsibility and community engagement. By supporting local service organizations and charitable initiatives, Wheeling Island can build a positive relationship with the community. Additionally, such programs provide an opportunity for the casino to give back and make a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals or groups in need.”

Where does the money go?

Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack is one of four commercial casinos in West Virginia. The mid-sized casino has more than 1,000 slot machines and 30 tables, along with a poker room and greyhound races.

The United Way of Upper Ohio Valley has an office in Wheeling and supports five counties in West Virginia and two in Ohio. The outreach helps provide services and funds to the Brooke County Public Library, Girl Scouts of Black Diamond, and Youth Services Systems among many others, Morris said.

“We receive feedback on the positive outcomes and benefits resulting from the assistance they receive, such as increased resources, improved services or the ability to reach a wider audience. The act of giving, regardless of the amount, can have a significant impact on the lives of those in need.

“Seeing people’s willingness to donate and support charitable initiatives often inspires others and encourages a culture of giving, which can create a positive ripple effect within the community.”

Last year, Wheeling Island donated almost $7,000 to the Salvation Army for Happy Land. It allowed kids to attend the summer camp free of charge. Morris said the Game Changer philosophy is that small donations can have a big impact.

“Donations made to programs like Game Changer reflect the generosity and compassion of individuals who contribute. The local organizations we support are grateful we have chosen them and graciously express their gratitude for the casino’s involvement.”

How to be a Game Changer

There are two main ways for people to get involved with the Game Changer program. The first is for patrons to drop off uncashed casino or racing vouchers in donation boxes on the property.

Maybe you hit it big with a bet on the Belmont Stakes. Or maybe you’re walking out of Wheeling Island with just a little something extra. If you give back, you’ll get more.

The other way Game Changer procures funds is through the old standard of letting their employees have a day off from the dress code. For a donation of $5 that goes to Game Changer, Wheeling Island associates get the opportunity to dress in more comfortable attire, Morris said.

“Wheeling Island employees are proud to be part of the Game Changer program and whole-heartedly support it. The opportunity for associates to contribute to the Game Changer program by donating through activities such as paying a small amount to wear jeans on certain days creates a sense of unity and purpose among the employees. It fosters a positive work environment and a shared commitment to making a difference in the community.”

Wheeling Island on the rise

Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in West Virginia. Along with the casino. the complex boasts a 151-room hotel and a show floor with seating for 1,000.

There is live greyhound racing every Wednesday through Sunday.

Also, there are still open slots for the Great American Poker Tournament with a grand prize of $300,000.

Photo by Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack/Courtesy
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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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