03/11/2007 11:00PM

West Virginia table games advance


The West Virginia legislature has approved a compromise bill that would allow voters in counties where parimutuel facilities are located to vote on whether the tracks can operate table games such as poker, blackjack, and craps.

The bill, which was worked out in conference committee on Friday, has been sent to Gov. Joe Manchin, who is expected to sign it. The bill would allow for the votes as early as this summer.

Legislation that authorized slot machines required county approvals as well, and all four counties that have parimutuel tracks voted for the machines.

West Virginia racetracks, which include the Thoroughbred tracks Charles Town Races and Slots and Mountaineer Park, already operate thousands of slot machines that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.

Under the legislation, tracks would keep 65 percent of the revenue, while the state would retain 35 percent. Of the state's share, 2 percent would go to purses and 2.5 percent would go to state breeding programs.