Table games bill would give $1 million to schools

March 07, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County voters would view the possibility of table games at Charles Town Races & Slots in a more favorable light under a state Senate casino table games bill passed Tuesday that would generate about $1 million for Jefferson County Schools, county and state officials said Tuesday.

Officials have been pushing for the school system to share potential revenue from table games if they are allowed at Charles Town Races & Slots, and some local officials felt county voters might vote against allowing table games at the track if no funds were set aside for education.

In the Senate bill passed Tuesday, the table games revenue that was to go to the Jefferson County Commission and the five towns now will go to the Jefferson County Board of Education for school construction, said Sen. John Yoder, R-Jefferson.

The amount that would go to schools would be about 3 percent of the track's gross table game receipts and would generate about $1 million per year, according to Yoder and Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson.


The bill would allow residents in Jefferson County and three other racetrack counties to vote whether to allow table games at tracks, and Jefferson County Commissioner Dale Manuel said Tuesday he thinks the funding mechanism for local schools will increase the chance of table games being approved for the local oval.

"It's certainly a lot better news than we have gotten of late from Charleston," Jefferson County Board of Education President Pete Dougherty said.

Jefferson County officials and local town officials recently have discussed giving the school system some of the proceeds that local government would receive from table games, officials said.

Ranson (W.Va.) Mayor David Hamill said local mayors felt their respective city councils would be receptive to the idea, but there was not time to discuss it before the Senate took action.

Hamill said he was happy for the school system, but said he is concerned about someone perhaps playing "lone ranger politics" and speaking on behalf of the towns.

Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith said Tuesday it was not immediately clear whether all of the table games revenue that was to go to local government would go to the schools.

Despite the confusion, Smith said she was happy with the school funding proposal.

Local cities and the county government still will receive slot machine revenue from the track, and that probably will increase if the track gets table games, Yoder said.

The House now must agree to Senate changes to the parceling out of potential game proceeds.

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