Bad Gamble

Wood County Commissioners Wayne Dunn and Steve Gainer might want to consider: If the county will not enforce its ordinance regulating the placement of video lottery establishments, why have such rules in the first place?

The commission earlier this week, by a 2-1 vote, allowed the placement of the gambling devices in a Mineral Wells bar and grill after the request had earlier been denied by Wood County Compliance and Building Permit Officer John Reed. Commissioner Blair Couch voted against the allowance.

Dan and Donna Daley were originally denied video lottery machines in their bar, Haggard’s Bar & Grill, because homes are located within the buffer zone required. The county video lottery ordinance does not allow placement of video lottery machines within 1,000 feet of highways, schools, churches, residences and other structures.

In denying the original request, Reed determined there were 30 residences within 1,000 feet of the couple’s bar.

The Daleys appealed the decision and commissioners told them to check with neighbors to find out whether they were opposed to this change. On Monday, the two brought in signatures from six residents who said they did not object to placement of the machines. That was only six out of 30. What about the other 24 or so other residences?

Actually, that’s neither here nor there.

The ordinance on the books says video lottery machines are prohibited within 1,000 feet of those homes, not prohibited unless a few residents are in favor of the machines.

This is not about Dan and Donna Daley, who are simply trying to make a living. It cannot be easy to operate a small bar and grill. However, if, as Mr. Daley stated, they need the machines to survive as a business, perhaps it is time to revisit their business plan.

Video lottery is authorized by the state of West Virginia. However, video lottery machines exist for one reason: to separate people from their money. And too often it is the people who can least afford it who are losing out.

Commissioners should be doing their part to protect Wood County residents by regulating and limiting such machines to the strictest extent the law allows, not bending the rules in order to authorize more.