Commission approves new casino policy for Greenbrier
The state Lottery Commission on Tuesday approved a new policy regulating the use of The Greenbrier's casino by people not staying overnight at the hotel.
The new rules are part of a continued push against so-called "day trippers" - people who book one-day trips to the resort for the sole purpose of gambling at The Greenbrier Casino Club.
The Lottery Commission and Greenbrier officials have cracked down on tour companies advertising casino day trips to the resort.
"One of the purposes of going through this process is to remove the levels of ambiguity and trying to draw a clear definition of what an event was," Commission Chairman Ken Greear said.
The Greenbrier casino was proposed several years ago as a way to help bring the resort out of bankruptcy and help fund some retiree liabilities.
It was originally billed as an amenity for hotel guests only. Lottery officials asked the Legislature for an exemption to let people use the casino when more than 400 rooms were booked. The resort has more than 700 guest rooms.
But two months ago, Lottery officials learned that tour bus companies were getting around the exclusions by booking a banquet room for a lunch
buffet. Bus riders would be allowed to go to the casino after lunch.
The tours were billed solely as casino trips - something commissioners agreed was a violation of rules.
Lottery officials and Greenbrier representatives spent the last month trying to draft a new policy that would allow non-hotel guests access to the casino but makes sure it was not exploited by "day trippers."
The new policy takes a multi-pronged approach.
First, as state law dictates, if The Greenbrier has fewer than 400 rooms booked on any day, only hotel guests and members of sporting clubs will be allowed to use the casino.
If more than 400 rooms are booked, events will be regulated in one of two ways.
Greenbrier officials will notify Lottery regulators whenever a wedding, concert, convention or sporting event is booked with the hotel's conference staff.
These events essentially are seen as having automatic approval under Lottery guidelines. Guests at those events would be able to use the casino so long as the hotel had 400 rooms occupied the day of the event.
If events do not fall into any of those categories, Greenbrier officials can submit the event to Lottery staff to approve.
The Lottery would approve the event if it met the following criteria:
- The Greenbrier must establish and host the event in one of its facilities, such as a ballroom or dining hall.
- There is a minimum guest charge of $20.
- At least 20 people pay to attend the event.
- The event is not exclusively confined to the casino.
Lottery and Greenbrier officials spent a great deal of time Tuesday morning hashing out a way to discern between "group events" and "private parties."
Lottery officials had wanted to limit the definition of group events to 20 people or more.
Todd Fishon, vice president of Greenbrier casino operations, wanted to preserve an exclusion for corporate retreats or private events that might involve fewer than 20 people.
He said some corporations might reward their top dozen sales executives with a dinner party at The Greenbrier. He said if two people in such a group lived in Lewisburg and chose not to stay at The Greenbrier, he would like to let them go to the casino with the rest of their party.
Fishon said he would distinguish such private parties from a group event.
"A group event is different from a private party," Fishon said. "(A group event) is where all of the participants do not know each other or are not affiliated. A private party is probably from some organizer or group where everyone would known each other."
When there is a private party of more than 10 people, The Greenbrier is to notify Lottery officials. If it includes fewer than 10 people, the party must be approved by the Lottery.
The Greenbrier also has to either notify or request approval from the Lottery for all events, parties or activities at least seven days prior to the date they will occur.
Greenbrier officials were satisfied with the Lottery's new guidelines.
"This solution does provide a lot of clarity," Fishon said. "I think this is a great statement."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-5148.