WV Discusses ADW, Instant Racing, EquiLottery

The racing commission and industry are looking for ways to increase revenue.

Advance deposit wagering and historical race wagering are on the West Virginia Racing Commission's legislative wish list for 2015.

In addition, the regulatory agency plans to examine a new game called EquiLottery, which links lotteries with pari-mutuel horse racing.

WVRC member Bill Phillips offered the proposals at the commission's Aug. 1 meeting. The panel agreed to submit them to the state legislature.

"It's time we stepped forward and offered serious legislative proposals because the racing industry is facing issues," Phillips said. "Opportunities need to be created to assist horsemen and the racetracks."

Phillips noted that the horsemen's share of video lottery terminal revenue was cut 10% about a month ago because the legislature opted to shift money to other programs. That's on top of an annual 11% cut to fund state workers' compensation programs that began in the mid-2000s and was supposed to sunset years ago.

Historical race wagering, also called Instant Racing, is operating in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Wyoming, and has been authorized in Oregon. The Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has suggested the machines could be placed at tracks, bars, and restaurants as a means to increase pari-mutuel revenue.

"Instant Racing needs to be authorized," Phillips said.

ADW has been discussed in West Virginia before. Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort pursued it. Mountaineer was stymied because of statutory language that permits telephone and online pari-mutuel betting, but defines a patron as one being on track.

If the language is revised, ADW could begin in earnest and the state would receive a share of the revenue. Phillips said West Virginia residents already wager online but the local racing industry isn't getting its fair share.

Though EquiLottery isn't part of the legislative recommendations, the WVRC plans to meet with president Brad Cummings for a presentation. EquiLottery would be a state lottery game by which $1 goes to pari-mutuel pools and $1 to the lottery corporation.

Cummings already has met with lottery officials in Kentucky and Ontario, Canada. Mountaineer director of racing Rose Mary Williams said she has been in contact with Cummings and has requested projections on how much revenue it could generate for racing and the West Virginia lottery.