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Justice vetoes greyhound legislation

Staff reports

The Weirton Daily Times

WHEELING, W.Va.  — Gov. Jim Justice was in Wheeling Saturday, where he vetoed legislation that would have ended $15 million in annual subsidies for the state’s Greyhound Breeder’s Fund.

The announcement of the veto of Senate Bill 437 was made in Independence Hall.

“If we get ride of greyhound racing, it will mean job losses and fewer people coming to West Virginia,” Justice said. “Eliminating support for the greyhounds is a job killer and I can’t sign it. The last thing we need to do is drive more people out of West Virginia. We can’t turn our back on communities like Wheeling that benefit from dog racing.”

Justice noted approximately 1,700 jobs are provided in the state through greyhound racing, including operations at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Mardi Gras Resort and Casino.

The governor also questioned the legality of the legislation, which would have decoupled West Virginia’s casinos and racetracks and permit the tracks to move operations to another location in their current county if receiving approval from the West Virginia Lottery Commission.

When casino gaming was legalized in the state, voters in the affected counties authorized gaming and racing as a package deal.

Justice expressed faith in the future of greyhound racing in the state.

“Greyhounds are born runners, and I hope to keep them running in West Virginia for a very long time,” Justice said.”

Wheeling officials have estimate the city receives more than $1 million in tax revenue from the racetrack.

The issue now will go back to the Legislature, where lawmakers will decide on whether to override the veto. An override would have to pass by a simple majority in both houses of the Legislature.

SB 437 passed the Senate on March 27, with a 19-15 vote. It passed in the House on April 1, with a roll call vote of 56-44.

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