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Casinos dominate state tourism grants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three of the state's four racetrack casinos account for more than three-fourths of the more than $670,000 in state tourism advertising matching grants approved recently by the state Tourism Commission.

The three casinos were awarded $508,248 of the $671,720 in 50-50 matching grants approved this quarter.

Hollywood Casino in Charles Town -- which has experienced a significant downturn in revenues since last December with the opening of a casino complex in nearby Anne Arundel County, Md. -- received the largest single grant, at $289,142.

The two casinos in the Northern Panhandle -- hard hit by competition from new gaming facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania -- also received large grants.

Mountaineer Casino in Chester received a $138,291 grant, and Wheeling Island casino received a grant for $80,815.

The largest non-casino advertising matching grant of $68,855 went to the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

American Mountain Theater, a Branson-style musical revue in Elkins, received a $47,438 grant, while the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau picked up a $25,379 grant.

The Tourism Commission also approved four matching grants through its small grants program, including a $3,599 grant for FestivALL Charleston.

Also receiving small grants: Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau, $7,462; Braxton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, $6,149; and the Fayette County Education Foundation, for the New River Birding and Nature Festival, $4,590.

Started in 1995, the 50-50 matching grants are funded through state Lottery revenue. As Lottery profits have declined, the grants, which at one time topped $3 million a quarter, have also been reduced.

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


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