Looking for more jobs, West Virginia OKs casino

Dec 7, 2009 7:20 PM
by Ray Poirier | Even a heavy snowfall couldn’t keep voters away from the polls Saturday as Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) sought approval to turn its Charles Town racino into a full-fledged casino.

By a vote of 6,279 to 4,343, Jefferson County agreed to permit table games on the casino floor of the Charles Town Races & Slots facility.

The same measure was defeated two years ago. But, the effects of the recession had not hit the state’s Panhandle area at that time.

Both sides had hoped for a strong turnout with major campaigns attempting to attract a majority of the county’s 33,000 registered voters. That didn’t happen.

"It doesn’t matter," said John Finamore, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming.

"We won. To win is the important thing, and to win by a wider margin than we lost last time speaks to a lot of things…the campaign we ran, the needs, the revenues we’ll produce…It’s a great outcome," Finamore was quoted as saying.

The company promised to employ 500 more people at an average pay scale of $45,000 per year with the addition of blackjack, craps and roulette.

Also influencing a number of voters, who previously had opposed the move, was a new revenue-distribution formula that benefits local governments and schools. One of the major beneficiaries is expected to be the local college, Shepherd University, that does a lot of good for the county, according to officials.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier