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West Virgina, Poker, Table Games, and More!

Aug 15, 2007
Author: Catrina Rudd
A recent referendum for the legalization of table games, including poker, in Kanawha County, West Virginia, seemed to come from a narrow victory for pro-gambling forces. The slight 33-vote victory in a special referendum with more than 45,000 votes seemed to open the way for the games to be offered currently at one location, the Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center greyhound track in Nitro, west of Charleston. Kanawha County is the most populated in West Virginia, setting up an opportunity for a lucrative return potential. The battle is just getting started.

The battle lines are being drawn over a several hundred ballots that have been disputed by election officials. There are some ballots that were not counted at all, as they were just forwarded to the courthouse in 3 separate precincts. Adding to the ballot controversy in this situation are the 64 uncounted absentee ballots, recently discovered by County Clerk Vera McCormick. Most from her precinct voted heavily against the gambling idea. It is likely that once these are included and the recount comes back the final numbers will be close to or equal to even. They have yet to announce the count complete.

Once complete they will make it clear to all parties and then there is a 48-hour time frame to file for a recount. Some opponents are hoping that if they are in the lead, and a recount is filed for the Tri-State facility field the bill for the recount expense. One Charleston newspaper revealed the side that challenges the count must post a bond in the neighborhood of 300 dollars, as assurance they will pay for the remainder of the recount cost, regardless of out come. One opponent of the gambling bill Republican Patrick Lane insists the racetrack and gaming center pays a portion of the recount based on the word ‘entire' in the state law pertaining to the original funding for all special elections, such as the one we are currently addressing.

It is possible for the side that seeks the recount to stop the process at any time, should they achieve the desired result part way into the count. At the point in which the count is stopped the other side may also post a 300-dollar bond, to finish the counting verification process. Depending on the lead changes through out the recount process, it is conceivable that the effort can begin and end several times over. Based on the current laws, and poll results, it is evident this race is far from over. With a 36 percent voter turn out, and gambling table games at the center of it all, this issue is obviously heated and touchy for all involved. It could be months before the final accounting is accepted and announced as such.

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