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West Virginia's Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center's Hotel Plans Move Forward,
Will Face Annual Penalty of $2.5 million if Not Complete by August 2010

By Cara Bailey, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jun. 9, 2009--CROSS LANES, W.Va.--Plans appear to be moving forward for a hotel that must be built by August 2010 in order for the Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center to avoid a significant monetary penalty.

A classified ad from Tri-State seeking a hotel manager has been running in the Charleston newspapers.

The 119-word ad said the racetrack is "looking for a hotel manager to manage the day-to-day operations to assure optimum performance and continual improvement."

Rich Tesler, the executive director of casino operations, confirmed that the ad is for the hotel that must be built to meet the provisions of the table games legislation approved in 2007. The bill said Tri-State and the state's three other racetracks could add table games such as poker and blackjack if voters in the county approved.

"We're looking for a hotel manager, so plans are proceeding," Tesler said. "That's all I can say."

Tesler said the position has been advertised for several weeks, and there is no rush to fill it.

"We're going to make sure we select the right person for the job," he said.

The legislation specifies that tracks that offer table games must operate a hotel on site with at least 150 guest rooms and significant amenities. The hotel must be completed within three years of the local option election.

Those amenities include room service, full-service restaurants, valet parking, luggage services, a spa or fitness center, swimming pool, 24-hour housekeeping services, concierge services, in-room movies, high-speed Internet access in guest rooms and services for physically disabled guests.

Kanawha County voters approved table games in August 2007.

Under the law, if Tri-State fails to get a hotel by August 2010, it must pay an annual $2.5 million surcharge along with the annual $2.5 million table games license fee.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he heard scuttlebutt about a big meeting last week -- and that a big announcement from Tri-State is imminent.

Carper said he has heard the racetrack might buy an existing hotel.

Carper said he understands that the current economic downturn makes it difficult to finance new construction.

"When you look around the country, this is the worst time in the world to attempt to do something like this with the economy, the availability of commercial loans, and the decline in gaming revenue from the East Coast to the West Coast," Carper said. "I think because of those factors, it has been difficult for them.

"At the same time, they made a commitment to the voters of this county, and I'm sure they'll keep it," he added.

Table games at Tri-State have created 350 new jobs, bringing the employee total at the track to nearly 800.

Contact writer Cara Bailey at cara.bailey@dailymail.com or 304-348-4834.

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To see more of the Charleston Daily Mail, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dailymail.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.

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