Lawmakers and the head of Wheeling Island Racetrack and Casino are set to meet today to discuss the future of table games in the state.
The conversation comes days after the casino announced it would renew its annual $2.5 million table games licensing fee. It current license expires at the end of the month.
Wheeling Island officials said they renewed the license in hopes the Legislature would reduce the fee in the future. Earlier in the year some lawmakers thought the casino officials were bluffing in the attempt to get a tax break.
Casino representatives told state lawmakers during the recent legislative session the fee was too high and they might eliminate table games without a financial break.
Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, led the charge in the Senate to pass a bill that would have decreased the fees by $1 million for each of four state racetrack casinos.
The effort was questioned by fellow senators but ended up passing that chamber by a 24-8 margin. It died in the House, when then-House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, didn't bring it before the committee.
At the time, Miley said some delegates questioned whether the casino needed the fee reduction. Table games could be a loss leader for the operations, Miley said, something that might lose money but bring customers into the facility to spend more money elsewhere.
Prezioso is frustrated.
"I was probably the one who questioned it more in the Senate than anybody, and obviously the House called their bluff, and they chummed up and got back in the game," Prezioso said Thursday between interim meetings in Wheeling.
"Being the chair of finance, I feel like I have a little egg on my face," he said.
Prezioso is one of the leaders of the joint standing committee on finance, slated to meet this morning with Wheeling Island President and General Manager Osi Imomoh.