Referendum on November ballot in West Virgina
Voters in Greenbrier County, W.V., will again be asked to approve the addition of a casino to the Greenbrier Resort on the November ballot through a referendum unanimously approved by the Greenbrier County Commission.
Although 58 percent of voters turned down a similar referendum in 2000, supporters of the referendum say they believe the steady decline in the local economy could produce a different outcome this year. Among supporters are the owners of the Greenbrier Resort, the union (Unite HERE Local 863) representing the Greenbrier’s employees, and West Virginia’s largest newspaper, the Charleston Daily Mail.
In a Sept. 15 editorial, the Mail noted that when voters last turned down a Greenbrier casino, the economy was booming. But since then, it has declined, resulting in rising unemployment in Greenbrier County, which could get worse if the resort, which has operated nearly $40 million in the red during the past four years, were forced to declare bankruptcy and shut its door. The Greenbrier Resort is the county’s largest employer with 1,100 employees.
A Greenbrier casino would infuse $34 million annually into the local economy, the Mail said in calling a “Yes” vote on the referendum “the responsible thing to do.”
As in 2000, most of the opposition to the casino referendum is coming from local church organizations. If approved, the casino at the Greenbrier would likely be heavy on table games, though the West Virginia legislation in 2001 approved limited installation of video slots.