West Virginia’s five licensed casinos have been given the green light to reopen on June 5, while limited video lottery retailers could restart Saturday, May 30, according to a Monday announcement from the eastern U.S. state’s Governor Jim Justice.
In addition to the gaming facilities, Justice also included a list of other businesses highlighted to reopen in the coming weeks.
During the 69-year-old Republican governor’s pandemic briefing, he reportedly said that the state’s Lottery Director John A. Myers was involved with the development of guidance. Myers was appointed director of the West Virginia Lottery on September 18, 2018, by Justice, who is the state’s only billionaire.
According to Metro News, Justice commented about the balance between health and safety concerns and economic activity, saying…
“It’s a bad situation and probably the toughest situation of my life.”
And while restrictions have been eased, according to Justice, the spread of coronavirus will continue to be monitored by state leaders and react if a spike is identified.
“This is a fluid situation. Some of these are subject to change,” Justice added.
WV gambling landscape:
The Mountain State’s five licensed casinos are Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Hancock County, owned by New York-based real estate investment trust Vici Properties (leased to Century Casinos, Inc.), Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in Cross Lanes, which was acquired by Delaware North in February 2018, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, also owned by Delaware North, Hollywood Casino & Inn at Charles Town Races in Jefferson County, owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. and Penn National Gaming, Inc.
The fifth casino is at The Greenbrier, a 710-room luxury resort in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs that was purchased on May 7, 2009, by the Justice Family Group, LLC, a company owned by Justice, for $20 million. Prior to the acquisition by Justice’s family, the resort was owned by American holding company CSX Corporation, which filed for bankruptcy on March 20, 2009. According to the resort’s website, The Greenbriar will reopen on May 22.
During the announcement, Justice declared that the counties of Monongalia, Marion, Harrison, Jefferson and Berkeley would be removed as hotspots.
According to the local news agency, Justice said…
“Under the new system, we no longer have counties under the hotspot alert.”
High and dry:
After confirming the state’s first coronavirus case (in the Eastern Panhandle), on Tuesday, March 17, Gov. Justice mandated the closure of all casinos, restaurants, and bars in the state. The executive order temporarily shuttering the state’s five gambling facilities left West Virginia casino customers no place to go.
Unlike the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, online casinos are not a fall-back option. While on March 27, 2019, H2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act allowing legalized online casinos in West Virginia became law, the projected launch dates have yet to be determined. The closest there is to a timeline isn’t until February 2021. The law provides one license for each of the state’s five casinos.
The bill automatically became law when Gov. Justice failed to act on it, much like the year prior when he chose not to sign the bill legalizing WV sports betting, and it too became law through inaction.