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Wheeling close to getting electronic games

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Lottery Commission members are expected to approve two of four types of electronic table games requested by the Wheeling Island Casino.

"They've submitted four projects they would like to do. We're going to approve two of them. Two, we're going to hold off on, and take an additional look at," Lottery Director John Musgrave said Tuesday.

In June, Wheeling Island president and general manager Osi Imomoh made a presentation to the Lottery Commission explaining the need for the electronic table games.

Wheeling Island -- the hardest-hit of the state's four racetrack casinos by competitors in metro-Pittsburgh and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio -- renewed its annual $2.5 million table games license on July 1, even though Imomoh said the casino lost money in the past year on the labor-intensive games.

On Thursday, commissioners are expected to authorize Wheeling Island to operate two eight-player electronic blackjack games and one eight-player electronic roulette game.

"These games have been signed off on by Gaming Labs International. They've confirmed they meet all of our criteria," Musgrave said.

The electronic games are expected to be more cost-efficient, and provide for more rapid play, than the traditional table games, although each game will be manned by a dealer.

The commission is expected to approve the games via a conference call Thursday, prior to its scheduled monthly meeting on July 25.

Musgrave said commissioners wanted to act this week, to give Wheeling Island lead time to order and install the games as quickly as possible.

"It's going to be some lag time to get them in place and operating," he said.

Technically, once the commission approves the electronic games, they could be installed at the other casinos, but each facility would have to submit a request to the commission, Musgrave said.

In 2011, commissioners approved electronic roulette at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town.

At the time, players at the casino frequently had to wait in line for seats at traditional table games, and management requested the electronic roulette as an alternative, as well as a way to provide a transitional game for video slots players.

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

 


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