Jefferson County Voters Gives Go Signal to Casino Table Games Proposal

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Jefferson County Voters Gives Go Signal to Casino Table Games Proposal

A proposal to permit the Charles Town Races and Slots to install casino table games like craps together with its five thousand slot machines passed on December 5th, 2009 as state voters showed that they are willing to gamble on the promise of five hundred new jobs and a positive effective on the local economy.

A cheer went up in a ballroom above the facility about 2 hours after the vote closed and track officials declared triumph on the issue. With all of the thirty-two precincts in Jefferson County reporting, the unofficial tally was 6,279-4,343 in favor of the proposal.

John Finamore, a senior vice president of the thoroughbred racing track and casino's parent group, Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming Incorporated said that they are happy with the results and they are more than ready to start fulfilling their promises of new jobs.

Both sides had hoped for a good turnout, mobilizing many of Jefferson County's 33,000 registered voters throughout the day with full-page newspaper advertisements, Facebook campaigns and personal calls. The general manager of the racing track said that the main difference this time around compared two years ago when the casino table games proposal was dismissed by voters, is that they have a solid support from the community in convincing voters and the success of the racing track.

The arguments against the proposal were the same as two years ago. Charles Town will turn out like Atlantic City. Gamblers will get addicted to the game faster. The new jobs would not be that good. But 52 year-old Bob Risch of Shepherdstown, who voted in favor of the proposal, dismissed them all. He said that he does not think that it will get out of control like the critics are saying.

While many voters have changed their opinions since 2007 because of a new revenue distribution scheme that benefits local governments and the school system, a Vote No group said that the racing track and the state still gets too much cash.

But Charles Town's job-creation argument convinced a lot of individuals, with the unemployment rate at more than six percent and competition for slots gamers from Maryland and Pennsylvania changing from threat to reality. The racing track and its supporters said that it is only a matter of time before players stop travelling to Charles Town and the track needs something to stay competitive.

Three other counties approved casino table games for their gaming establishments the first time around-Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Chester, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Tri-State Racing and Gaming Center in Nitro.

While the other casinos launched the game of poker first, Finamore said that Charles Town will begin offering craps as well as blackjack and roulette. He said that it will take at least six months for the casino table games to be fully operational since they need that amount of time to hire and train casino dealers.


John O'Haver