WV Court Refuses to Hear Exclusion Appeals

A West Virginia court refused to hear appeals tied to racetrack exclusions.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals refused March 30 to hear petitions by the West Virginia Racing Commission and three individuals who have been barred from Charles Town Races & Slots.

Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Charles Town, was successful in getting a circuit court order stopping the WVRC from holding hearings on the exclusions. The racing commission appealed that ruling, with Richard and Janene Watson, and Patty Burns, signing on as interveners.

In announcing its decision, the Supreme Court of Appeals said: “The (circuit court) prohibited the West Virginia Racing Commission from conducting hearings on the (ejection) decisions of racing associations, including the Charles Town Races & Slots, concluding that the commission lacks the authority to unilaterally reinstate an ejected permit-holder over the objection of a racing association.” It voted 5-0 to support that decision by not taking on the appeal.

West Virginia statute states: “Any person ejected by the stewards or the association from the grounds of an association shall be denied admission to the grounds until permission for his or her re-entry has been obtained from the association and the racing commission. However, all occupational permit-holders who are ejected have the right of appeal to the racing commission.”

Horsemen involved in the case, which has dragged on for years, indicated the language noting “the association and racing commission” allowed the court to rule the WVRC alone can’t reinstate an ejected permit-holder.

The WVRC is currently reviewing all of its rules of racing and making changes where necessary. Earlier, changes to rules regarding the rights of permit-holders and the commission were discussed.