Greyhound subsidies terrible waste of money

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel         

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Greyhound breeders and racetracks in West Virginia may not like it, but the results of a study commissioned by the state Senate Finance Committee last year make clear the state must stop shoring up this disintegrating enterprise.

Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort pay approximately 10 percent of their gross gambling revenue (both facilities are video lottery operators) to the Lottery Commission. That money is transferred to accounts held at the two greyhound racetracks and the West Virginia Racing Commission, which makes payments out of the Greyhound Breeding Development Fund. Yes, the state of West Virginia has a Greyhound Breeding Development Fund.

But according to the study conducted by Spectrum Gaming Group, the $29 million that goes to casinos for purses and greyhound development is a terrible investment, as the industry has a total economic impact on the state of about $31 million.

“That means that the total direct and indirect impact barely exceeded the casino supplement,” according to the study.

Meanwhile, during a four-year period, there were 162 fatalities and 3,331 injuries at West Virginia racetracks.

It is true, according to the study, that 618 employees would be affected by a change in the way greyhound racing is funded in West Virginia. But a good many of those people would likely find other jobs at casinos. And there were plenty of other figures given in the report to explain by far the largest benefit from greyhound racing in West Virginia goes to out-of-state entities.

Lawmakers must see the millions being poured into greyhound racing are a horrible waste of money, and the subsidies that support the industry must be stopped. Even Sam Burdette, president of the West Virginia Owners and Breeders Association, has suggested a $75 million buyout in exchange for ending greyhound racing altogether.

Authors of the Spectrum report made the matter rather plain: “Surely, the State of West Virginia could put the casino supplements to better use for the benefit of West Virginians.”

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