03/17/2014 2:17PM

West Virginia racing industries lose out on some slot-machine revenue


Legislators in West Virginia helped to close a budget gap for the next fiscal year by diverting 10 percent of the amount the state’s racing industries receive from slot machines to the state’s general fund.

The two houses of the state legislature approved the move as part of the $22.2 billion 2014-15 state budget passed Friday night. Gov. Earl Ray Tromblin is expected to sign the budget into law.

The state’s Thoroughbred and greyhound industries will lose about $21 million in annual funding through the budget provisions, according to government analysts. The bulk of that money, however, had not been collected by the racing industries for almost a decade.

In 2005, West Virginia’s legislature targeted racing subsidies to help pay off a multibillion-dollar debt in the state’s workers’ compensation program. The provision was to sunset when the debt had been paid down, but the budget passed Friday night made the redirection permanent, to the amount of approximately $11 million a year.

Also under the bill, purses and breeder subsidies will be reduced by approximately $5 million for each breed in 2015, while the state’s racetracks will lose approximately $1 million in the Racetrack Modernization Fund, which partially reimburses tracks for capital expenditures from the state’s slot-machine revenue.