Maryland Election Blow Against W.Va.

Competition from legalized gambling in Ohio and Pennsylvania already has eaten into revenue for two of West Virginia’s four casinos, here in Wheeling and in Chester. That has taken a bite out of the state’s cut of what gamblers leave on tables at the local facilities.

The impact on state revenue is about to become worse – perhaps much worse – courtesy of Maryland voters. On Tuesday, they agreed to permit six full-scale casinos in their state.

For months, the casino at Charles Town has been a star in producing revenue for West Virginia state government. Many of the gamblers there are from Virginia and Maryland. Many of them will stay in their home state once casinos open in Maryland.

One, at Rocky Gap State Park near Cumberland, is likely to draw not just Maryland residents but also some West Virginia gamblers.

Approval of the Maryland ballot measure means West Virginia legislators should accelerate planning for how to deal with a major drop-off in how much legalized gambling contributes to the state budget. Again, it is going to get worse, and soon.