Wheeling’s economy could take a big hit if the Racetrack Bill passes

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – A bill that is headed to the Senate floor could result in the loss of nearly two thousand jobs for the Mountain State, and several hundred right here in Wheeling.

There are some delegates and senators across the state of West Virginia that are pushing for greyhound racing to stay in the Mountain State. But the funding is something Senate President Mitch Carmichael has been pushing to cut for many years, and he says that money could help resolve pressing issues in our state.

Although the West Virginia Greyhound industry is under fire again, Wheeling city manager, Bob Herron, says it’s crucial to the area and the state to keep running. In fact – it’s one of the largest taxpayers and employers in the city.

A WVU study does indicate that greyhound racing across the state provides about 1,700 jobs. We estimate that there are several hundred here in Wheeling as a result of that. To lose those jobs would be a double whammy that in a very short time that would be very difficult to overcome.

BOB HERRON – CITY MANAGER, WHEELING

With the recent loss of jobs due to the closure of OVMC and EORH, Herron says our economy cannot afford to lose another industry. In West Virginia, wagering has increased by 19 percent. And since the industry is shrinking in most states, Herron says if we continue, we could be a leader in the industry.

We’re very hopeful that once the legislation goes to the floor of the senate and then over to the house that there will be opportunity for further discussion and further interaction with the senators and delegates to further educate them on the importance of this industry not only to this region, but to the state of West Virginia. Hopefully they’ll understand that, and the legislation will not move forward.

BOB HERRON – CITY MANAGER, WHEELING

But not everyone agrees it’s the smartest move for our state to keep the dogs racing.

When we have needs for our foster kids, for our education community, all the different things that we as a state can do, with 17 million dollars. Hardly anyone in this state would say, ‘I think we should use that to subsidize the development of greyhound breeding. This is just a ridiculous argument to even be having. We should have done this years ago, and I’m hopeful we can get rid of it this year.

State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President

Herron also says if racetrack funding is cut, people in the industry will move to states that continue to race, and the property at the casino will take a huge hit. Now it’s not certain when the greyhound bill will be up for a vote, but last year Governor Justice vetoed a similar funding cut bill.

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