West Virginia Eyes Consolidation of Gambling Panels

West Virginia has joined Washington as states planning to consolidate government functions and make the racing commission part of a broader gambling commission.

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, in his state of the union address, said he would ask the legislature to consolidate agencies that oversee the lottery, pari-mutuel racing, and charitable gaming. The Lottery Commission oversees video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state, and apparently would take the lead as part of a new Gambling Commission.

The move comes as West Virginia looks for ways to tighten the budget and streamline activities given the prospect of expanded gambling in neighboring states. Other government consolidations are part of Wise's proposal.

The Lottery Commission, meanwhile, has scheduled a meeting Jan. 28 to vote on whether to move its offices to Hurricane, located west of Charleston, the state capital, the Charleston Gazette reported.

"With charitable gaming and the state racing commission coming in through reorganization, we're at the point we really need to do something," John Musgrave, director of the Lottery Commission, told the newspaper.

There is some concern from the pari-mutuel industry that racing, under any consolidation, might be slighted. Revenue from racetrack-based VLTs far outpaces revenue generated by wagering on horse and dog racing in West Virginia.

West Virginia has two Thoroughbred tracks -- Charles Town Races & Gaming and the Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, and two Greyhound tracks -- Tri-State Racing and Entertainment Center and Wheeling Island Gaming.