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Lottery chairman to head panel looking into Greenbrier allegations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lottery Commission chairman Ken Greear will head a three-member subcommittee that will look into allegations that management of The Greenbrier violated state gaming laws and Lottery regulations by allowing unauthorized persons to gamble in the resort's $80 million casino.

Greear announced Tuesday that he, vice chairman Bill Clayton, and commissioner Michael Adams will work with Lottery attorneys to look into allegations that The Greenbrier has allowed day trippers to enter the casino, under the guise they constitute "events" under the state's historic resort gaming law.

Under the law, only registered overnight guests of the hotel, or those attending conferences, conventions or similar events are permitted to gamble at the resort casino - if 400 or more rooms in the hotel are booked for the event.

However, published reports indicate that tour bus companies in Virginia have been bringing hundreds of tourists to the resort for what promotional materials describe as low-cost casino day trips.

Greear said the subcommittee will be working with Lottery attorneys to review records and documents from the hotel casino, and will present the results Nov. 27, when the Lottery Commission has scheduled a special work session to clarify what constitutes an event under the state gaming law.

"We will bring the entire commission up to date with these activities," said Greear, who said he is confident the commission will be able to come up with a more specific definition for what constitutes an event under the gaming regulations for The Greenbrier.

Also during the planning session Tuesday, the Lottery Commission:

  • Approved the transfer of 49 percent ownership rights in Southern Amusement Co. from Vicki Ferrell to J.D. and Mitzi Brammer, Ferrell's son-in-law and daughter.
  • The company, once owned by former delegate and convicted felon Joe C. Ferrell, is the largest limited video lottery machine distributor in the state, with 675 licenses to lease LVL machines to bars and clubs around the state. Ferrell transferred his ownership interests to his wife, Vicki, in 2007.

  • Discussed agenda items for the Nov. 27 commission meeting, including a request from the state's casinos to withdraw a regulation that puts a $200 limit on personal checks that the casinos may cash.
  • Lottery deputy director David Bradley said management at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town would like to see that limit raised to $2,000, while The Greenbrier would like to be able to cash even larger checks for casino patrons.

    "Do we have a responsibility to protect the person from themselves?" commissioner Dave Lemmon asked.

    While the current rule limits any one check to $200, there is no limit to how many checks a casino patron may cash in any given period of time.

    Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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