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Casinos get smaller share of latest W.Va. ad grants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Tourism Commission members Wednesday approved $1.46 million of advertising matching grants for 21 tourism venues or events, with the state’s four racetrack casinos splitting $500,000 of that total.

The awards were the first since the commission voted in May to set the maximum Matching Advertising Partnership Program grant amount at $125,000, casinos included.

That eliminated a longstanding funding preference for the racetrack casinos, which technically provide the revenue for the matching grants program through a percentage of racetrack video lottery profits. By comparison, the casinos last fiscal year shared $965,000 of $1.9 million in total grants.

However, the change raised the maximum grants for non-casino venues from $50,000, an amount many tourism operators said was inadequate to stage effective advertising campaigns.

For the racetrack casinos, the $125,000 grants will be used to compete with rival casinos in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland in attracting and retaining players.

For Hollywood Casino at Charles Town, the grant will go toward a $312,500 campaign called the “Competitive Defense Focus Project,” which will focus on print and direct mail advertising in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia markets.

Besides the casinos, other major grant recipients Wednesday included…

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