It's evident that, despite their assertions to state Lottery director John Musgrave, the management of The Greenbrier is flaunting state law by allowing visitors on day-trip bus tours to gain access to what is supposed to be the guests-only casino.
An associate of The Greenbrier sent this note: "Thank you for the story on ignored gambling regulations. The day it appeared in the Gazette, we hosted over 300 such people on bus tours here at the hotel. It happens every day. They do define lunch as an 'event.'"
The 2009 "historic resort gaming" law is clear about restricting access to the casino to overnight guests at the hotel, but provides an exception for persons attending conferences or conventions at The Greenbrier when the hotel is basically booked to capacity.
Last month, the Lottery Commission modified its regulations to expand that exception to persons attending special events at the resort, again if the hotel is booked to capacity, with a nod toward the Greenbrier Classic PGA golf tournament.
It was at that meeting that Musgrave made the now-ironic comment that the rule change would not open casino access to the general public: "We don't want buses pulling up and unloading folks just for the purpose of going to the casino."
I'm advised that the lunch provided by The Greenbrier for the day tours is not a formal, sit-down lunch, but a buffet -- hardly a "special event" as defined in the Lottery regulations.
Also, with one bus company offering 18 casino daytrips this month alone -- 14 on weekdays -- it seems implausible that the hotel is booked to capacity each day, as required by law to invoke the convention or special event exception.
The associate suggested the bus tours are indicative of the brazenness of Greenbrier management, adding, "They think they can get away with it over here, because they always do."
Indeed, in speaking with Greenbrier president Jeff Kmiec, he does believe the hotel is following the letter of the law by allowing the day tourists access to the casino, so long as they partake of another activity at the resort, be it the Bunker tour, the historic tour, or a buffet.
As for whether a buffet lunch is stretching the definition of "special event" beyond recognition, Kmiec commented, "Have you had the buffet lunch here? It's very special."