SENATE Finance Committee Chairman Roman Prezioso looked like he was in pain.
There was the longtime lawmaker, who has never supported gambling, shepherding through the Legislature a bill to give the state's four racetracks and casinos a one-year, $1 million dollar apiece break on their table games licensing fees. (The current annual license fee is $2.5 million.)
The irony of Prezioso's position is indicative of the conundrum the state of West Virginia now finds itself in regarding gambling.
Just a few years ago, West Virginia had a monopoly on casino games. But now Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania have all jumped in, cutting significantly into West Virginia's market share.
For example, Wheeling Island says it will lose money this year on table games and may not renew its license for the next fiscal year.
On one hand, the argument is being made under the Capitol dome that the casinos should be on their own. Republican Sen. Mitch Carmichael was livid when the discounted licensing fee bill came to the floor.
"We can't cut a tax for manufacturing. . . for any other business in West Virginia, and yet we come in here and for gambling, for table games, we can reduce their fees," roared an incensed Carmichael.
But like it or not, West Virginia is in business with the casinos. It's really more of a partnership, with the state taking a huge chunk of money from gambling - about $440 million this year.
The state has a vested interest in keeping the racinos viable, otherwise even more of the badly needed gambling revenue will dry up.