WV Residents Want Greyhound Racing Subsidy to End
Majority favor no more subsidy
A recent survey sanctioned by anti-greyhound racing group Grey2K USA Worldwide found that most West Virginia residents are opposed to the state’s $15m subsidy of the racing industry.
The telling survey results
Pollster Mark Blankenship and Mark Blankenship Enterprises conducted the survey from October 29 until November 1. A total of 403 people registered to vote in the state took part.
A main question of the survey asked residents if they agree with a large subsidy paid to the industry. It read: Do you generally support or oppose the state government spending between $13m and $15m a year in gambling revenue to subsidize commercial greyhound breeding for racing at two casinos in West Virginia?
Of those surveyed, 57% responded that they are “strongly opposed” to the money going to the racing industry. Only 6% chose “strongly support”, while 22% voted “somewhat opposed” and 10% opted for “somewhat support”.
The greyhound racing industry
Greyhound racing in West Virginia takes place at the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, as well as at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. State law dictates that casinos with dog race tracks send 1.5% of their video lottery revenue to a special account created by the Racing Commission.
The money is distributed from the fund to pay for purses of events. The fund usually generates around $15m a year.
According to VSO News, Senate President Mitch Carmichael plans to introduce a bill that will eliminate the funds, with money going to the state coffers instead. Grey2K is advocating for greyhound races to come to an end.
Grey 2K executive Carey Theil has stated that the industry cannot function without the $15m subsidy. The funds could be used in other areas such as education or repairing roads.
Senate majority whip speaks out
After the results of the survey were published, Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld stated his opinion on the matter.
Weld feels that the language used in the survey misled voters. He also feels the survey is a ramped-up effort by the opponents of the racing industry to pass legislation during the next session in January that will eliminate the industry.
According to Weld, the term subsidy is a misnomer. The casino has to send the money to the state before it is provided back to the track. Weld said: “If you are not from an area with a track and this doesn’t affect you, you’re obviously in favor of ending what you think to be a subsidy. They’re asking a misleading question—and these are obviously skewed numbers.”
Theil said the use of the word subsidy was plausible. He pointed out that it is defined by a sum of money provided by a public body or government to assist an industry or business. Theil stated further that lawmakers like Weld need to work with them and negotiate a phase-out of the industry.