Introduced Version House Bill 4769 History

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Key: Green = existing Code. Red = new code to be enacted

WEST virginia legislature

2020 regular session


House Bill 4769

By Delegates Swartzmiller, Fluharty, Diserio, Robinson, Skaff, Storch, McGeehan and Pyles

[Introduced February 10, 2020; Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary then Finance]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-23-30, relating to creating a comprehensive study of the greyhound racing industry; providing legislative findings; directing the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress to conduct the study; providing that the universities submit a memo of understanding outlining the study plan and allocation of duties between the two schools; providing study parameters; and establishing study reporting deadlines.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:


§19-23-30. Greyhound Racing Industry Viability Assessment Act.

 (a) Legislative findings. -- Since dog race para-mutual betting was legalized in West Virginia in 1975, it has been an essential and integral part of the State Lottery Act and has brought thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the State of West Virginia through the creation of a rural family based industry that continues to contribute to the state economy and create jobs and opportunities for our state and its residents.  However, the dog racing industry has been in decline for the last decade as gaming tastes and markets have shifted towards other types of gambling. Although the market for dog racing has declined, there has and continues to be sufficient economic benefit to our state and the small businesses that participate in the industry. Therefore, it is a worthy endeavor for the Legislature to cause a study of the viability of the dog gaming industry in the state, and whether it can be rebranded and presented regionally and nationally to attract more betting activities, particularly through Internet gaming. Further, that a study be done to assess a variety of options for the industry, specifically in betting platforms for patrons of gaming services to access and enjoy the unique betting options available in this industry in a manner that is more consistent with successful gaming activities. Specifically, investigating the development of new gaming platforms, Internet accessibility, marketing initiatives, and promotions to attract out-of-state or even international dog race betting interest. Finally, conducting an investigation of the dog management practices to see if there is a need to improve the treatment or dog handling practices and to assure adoption at the end of a dogs racing career. Therefore, the purpose of this section is to direct the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress to coordinate and administer a study of the industry and report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance its findings and recommendations regarding the study directives provided pursuant to subsection (b) of this subsection.

(b) Study Directives. --  The West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress shall coordinate a study through a memorandum of understanding allocating various aspects of the study to each respective entity, to allocate areas of study based on the areas each entity is best positioned, based on expertise and specialization, to conduct the following study and research:

(1) Analysis of gaming trends, including the evolution of the gaming industry in West Virginia and nationally, relating to dog race betting, including, but not limited to, conducting polling of persons who are likely to frequent race track casinos and their views of dog racing, their interest in the sport, including incentives and disincentives for their participation in this gaming activity, and whether Internet-based platforms to allow live betting and greater analysis into dog and kennel information and histories would increase interest in participating in the gaming activity;

(2) Analysis of the economic activities associated with the dog race gaming industry in West Virginia and nationally, including economic impacts generated by dog breeding, kennel operations, employment at casinos, other contributions to the local and state economies, taxes generated to the state, and  any other relative factors identified by the researchers;

(3)  The use and treatment of dogs in the industry, including treatment of and management practices, mortality rates, health patterns, adoption rates, and other factors relating to the quality of life and the treatment of the greyhound racing population in West Virginia and nationally;

(4) A broad investigation into betting trends and interests of the gambling population to identify if sufficient interest in live racing sports betting exists regionally, nationally, and globally for this sporting activity and if innovative marketing, advertising, and promotions would attract gamblers to this form of betting through new Internet-based betting platforms;

(5) Research into potential innovative Internet programing that integrates this betting activity with other sports betting platforms, allowing for betting by alternative betting formats and ways to access the data and analyze dog sports betting that attracts new interest from gaming customers; and

(6) Through the initiative of the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress, the identification and study of other relevant areas of interest into the dog racing industry, with the purpose of proving a complete assessment of the greyhound dog racing industry, including final recommendations on the viability of the industry, including, but not limited to:

(A) Whether actions can be taken by the state, the gaming industry, or others to stimulate gamers’ interests and invigorate the greyhound dog racing industry;

(B) Whether the treatment and quality of life for the dogs can be improved, or if there are inherent problems in the conduct of the industry practices that prevent the dogs from being treated humanely; and

(C) Whether there is sufficient economic benefit to the State of West Virginia to continue the industry and the impacts of closure of the industry to the state and to local economies.

(c) Study reporting, conclusions and recommendations. --  The West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress shall submit to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance by July 1, 2020, a memorandum of understating that initiates a plan that allocates duties between the two organizations, and specifies a plan for proceeding with the study. The two organizations shall provide quarterly reports on the progress of their studies beginning September 1, 2020, and every three months thereafter until completion to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The final study and recommendations shall be submitted by January 1, 2022, to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance and shall include recommendations and conclusions regarding the future viability of greyhound racing industry in West Virginia.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to direct a study of the greyhound racing industry in West Virginia and its current economic impacts to the state; whether innovations can be developed and implemented that would invigorate the industry; directing The West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and Marshall University’s Center for Regional Progress coordinate a study into the current state of the industry; the potential for future development of the industry; how current industry practices impact dogs used in the industry; providing guidelines for the study, and deadlines for reporting to the Legislature.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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