West Virginia Lawmaker Calling for Satellite Casinos

West Virginia

A lawmaker in West Virginia is preparing to introduce legislation to allow full-scale commercial casino operators to create smaller satellite locations.

In many states across the US, casino gaming is looked at as an easy source of revenues. Players enjoy casino games, dining, drinks, shows, and other entertainment, along with hotel stays, and it brings in big bucks for the local cities and the entire state via tax revenues. In West Virginia, one lawmaker thinks that commercial casinos need to have the ability to branch out and offer satellite facilities. New legislation is in the works via Senator Eric Nelson to see this idea come to fruition.

Satellite Casinos for WV

Senator Nelson feels that satellite casinos, which are smaller gaming venues, would help revitalize shopping centers. The senator feels that empty shopping areas could easily be used to house smaller casino facilities. He used the former Macy’s store at the Charleston Town Center as an example.

The store shut down in 2019 and has remained empty. Previously, the store was operational for almost four decades. Since shoppers are now going online, the property has remained empty and unused. The senator feels it would be a great spot for a satellite casino to go in. It would put something in the mall and create a destination venue in the downtown area.

The senator tried to push similar legislation in 2019 but he was unable to come up with one additional vote to move the bill past committee. This time around, Nelson plans to introduce the measure during the next legislative session, which begins in mid-January 2022.

If the legislation can gain approval, voters would then need to have their say via ballot vote. There are quite a few steps to complete before the processing of licensing can begin.

Details of the Soon-to-Be Bill

For the gaming bill, Nelson will add language that requires casinos in the state to build the satellite venues in the game county. There are a total of 55 counties in the state. For the Macy’s location, the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort would be in the same county and eligible to place a venue there.

In total, there are four full-scale casinos in the state that would be eligible to create the smaller venue. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is one such venue, owned by Penn National Gaming. The company already has experience with satellite casinos in the state of Pennsylvania so there is little doubt that they would not be interested in offering the same services in WV.

The Mountaineer Casino and the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino also qualify. The Greenbrier resort is not eligible to offer a satellite property as the facility is only open to guests of the resort and members.

Taking a Page from Pennsylvania

If Nelson is able to push his bill forward, West Virginia will be taking a page from Pennsylvania with the satellite casinos. The Keystone State approved Class III satellite casinos in 2017 and it was not until a few years later that licensing was awarded.

Late last year, the Live! Casino Pittsburgh opened at the Westmoreland Mall and it features 50,000 square feet of gaming space. Penn National Gaming’s venue is located at the York Galleria Mall and titled the Hollywood Casino York. The casino is located in a spot where a Sears was formerly offering retail services.

Pennsylvania shows that satellite casinos can work and it would be surprising to see Nelson using the state as an example as he tries to get more lawmakers on his side after introducing the legislation next year. We shall see just what happens and if WV will be the next to approve the smaller casino venues.

Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.