It is my contention that both Tucker and Pendleton countians have been left completely out of the process. Certainly, our business would be adversely affected by a multi-million dollar casino with hotels and lodging little more than an hour away, redirecting the Washington market to itself with all bells and whistles.
We need to maximize existing tourism attractions such as Timberline Four Seasons Resort (which pays its own way), Canaan Valley ski area (which is supported by the Lottery), Blackwater Falls State Park, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and Otter Creek wilderness. These areas are ripe to fully enhance and to create the biggest attraction from the D.C. metro area.
The argument that Lee Iacocca's gaming concern will infuse the state economy is not true. Tourists who come for all of Tucker County's natural amenities will come in greater numbers and it doesn't require Iacocca's Full House Resorts to guarantee success.
Such ripe opportunity is where casino lobby interests should be looking and focusing, not in a farm community like Pendleton County, creating a sixth foundering casino needing state help (again). This is the last thing West Virginia needs to deal with.
The bill entices the Legislature to give new stand-alone casino rights to a Texas concern with the help of a powerful lobbyist, excluding all involved parties, and it is just plain wrong.
The bottom line is that the bill is designed as a Trojan horse. An expert in the casino industry said this is a pig in a poke, which cannot sustain itself. It allows the casinos to get rid of the racetracks so that other casinos can come back and say, "We want what Pendleton is getting."
This is particularly compelling for future arguments in upcoming sessions where the bill will surely be re-introduced, when one of the principals is a national icon of wealth and power.
But not exactly power to the people of West Virginia or the state's tourism potential.
Herz is vice president and co-owner of Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Canaan Valley and a board member of the West Virginia Hospitality Association.