Table games losing money at Wheeling Island
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
WHEELING, W.Va. — Poker, roulette and blackjack are becoming a problem for Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, which expects to lose about $1 million this year on its table games.
President and general manager Jim Simms said Wheeling Island is losing customers to casinos in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The games are labor-intensive.
“We have done everything we can to reduce our costs and to increase our customer base, but our ability to drive revenue is very limited now,” he said.
Wheeling Island's losses on table games have grown from $3,365 in the first two months of 2012 to $171,407 in the same period this year.
The losses don't include a $2.5 million annual fee that Wheeling Island and the state's other three racetracks must pay the West Virginia Lottery Commission to offer the games.
“I take great pride in my responsibility to keep the business stable — and to keep our associates in a comfortable working position,” said Simms, who plans to leave Wheeling Island to open a new casino in Lebanon, Ohio. “But if we have to pay this $2.5 million fee again, we are going to have to seriously consider whether to continue offering table games.”
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last month that gross table game revenue in the state's 11 casinos was 12 percent higher in January than it was in January 2012.
West Virginia's tax rate on table gaming is 35 percent, compared with 33 percent in Ohio and no more than 16 percent in Pennsylvania. The Mountain State's slot machine tax rate is 42 percent, while the rate in Pennsylvania is 55 percent. Ohio's tax rate is 33 percent.
Simms said Wheeling Island effectively pays a slot machine tax rate of about 57 percent because of breeders' funds, purse funds and local supplements.
“As long as we are going to be taxed at rates higher than our competition, we are at a complete disadvantage. They have brand new facilities in prime locations,” Simms said.
Simms said he would like to see the Legislature discuss table-gaming taxation and the annual fee before the regular session ends in April.
“That $2.5 million that we pay ends up going to different charitable groups. We are absolutely not trying to take money from those organizations that we are glad to support,” he said. “All we are asking for is to have a discussion to see if there is any way the Legislature can revisit this issue.”
Wheeling Island has not made any decision regarding table games. The racetrack's table gambling license expires July 13.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Louis Freeh gets expedited appeal to Graham Spanier suit
- Lawrence County cops dress as Amish to target flasher
- Tobacco companies expected to contest Pennsylvania’s settlement on payments
- Informant in closed corruption case spent freely, AG says
- Philadelphia museum truck drives home local history
- Good Samaritan in Millcreek turns over bag of found money to authorities
- Man tosses $1.25M worth of lottery tickets