A new poker room and simulcast facility are open in the grandstand at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, which earlier this year received state and county approval to add table games to its thousands of video lottery terminals.
Meanwhile, the track announced purses have increased 10%. They were reduced 20% this summer because of a shrinking underpayment in the purse account brought about in part by VLT revenue payments that must be made to support a West Virginia workers’ compensation program.
Mountaineer management opted to put the “River Poker Room” on the first floor of the grandstand because it is believed card players would be more likely to wager on horse races. The grandstand apron is accessible from the poker area and the new simulcast area, which replaced a glass-enclosed room used for pari-mutuel wagering.
The poker room and simulcast facility opened Oct. 19. The 3,000-square-foot betting parlor has 120 television-equipped carrels, betting clerks, and self-service machines. It’s located adjacent the poker room. Concession stands also were renovated.
“The recent enhancements to our racing program have been very favorably received and are indicative of Mountaineer’s continued commitment to both our racing product and our racing fans,” Mountaineer director of racing Rose Mary Williams said in a statement.
The poker room, with 37 tables, is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. A $2 to $4 minimum bet limit will be in place in an 8,000-square-foot main poker room, while a separate 1,900-square-foot high-roller room will have a bet limit based on demand.
Total renovation on the first floor of the grandstand cost about $1.2 million, officials said.
Early in 2008, the West Virginia racetrack will add roulette, craps, blackjack, and specialty card games such as Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud. Four areas for table games will be located in the main VLT casino, which is connected to a hotel. Another pit will be constructed on the second floor of the grandstand.
MTR Gaming, parent company of Mountaineer, portrayed the referendum on table games as a jobs issue for Hancock County. The measure passed by an 18% margin. Mountaineer officials project about 700 or more new jobs when all the table games are operating.