An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, 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 should stop shoring up this disintegrating enterprise.
Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort near Charleston 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.
At one time, subsidies for greyhound racing were justified as support for West Virginians involved in it. But part of the new report notes that, by far, the largest benefit from greyhound racing in West Virginia goes to out-of-state entities.
No other business or industry is subsidized by Mountain State taxpayers to the extent that greyhound and thoroughbred racers are. Yet for years, legislators have bowed to the two special interests and handed them tens of millions of dollars.
Lawmakers should view the millions of dollares a year being poured into greyhound racing as a terrible, inexcusable waste of money, and the subsidies that support the industry ought to 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 plain: “Surely, the State of West Virginia could put the casino supplements to better use for the benefit of West Virginians.”