Legal poker in West Virginia?

A Dealer in Action

On Friday West Virginia racetrack casinos held actual No-Limit Hold'em and other card games for the first time ever.

The reason? The Wheeling Island Racetrack & Gaming Center and the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort were conducting tests, with the proceeds going to charitable organizations in the Northern Panhandle.

According to a story in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, if the West Virginia Lottery Commission approves of the test runs, the region's first legalized poker could start sometime this week.

"This gives employees time to practice," lottery commission spokeswoman Nancy Bulla told the newspaper. "Moreover, for our purpose, it gives the lottery an opportunity to be certain security and operational guidelines, under the rules and regulations, have all the i's dotted and all the t's crossed."

Earlier this year the racetrack casinos requested the addition of table games to their slot machine parlors, as long as their county's voters approved the action. The casinos contended that it would be a way of adding jobs and competing against new slot casinos in Pennsylvania. Local voters in Wheeling Island's Ohio County and Mountaineer's Hancock Country agreed.

The Wheeling Island facility is hoping to offer poker 24 hours a day with up to 20 tables available and a full assortment of poker games including No-Limit Hold'em, Pot-Limit Omaha and seven-card stud.

Meanwhile the Mountaineer casino will have even more action, with a total of 37 poker tables set up in the building's old simulcast area of its racetrack grandstand.

As at most casinos there will be a rake, which will take 10% of each hand up to a total of $5.

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