Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, located in Chester, was called Waterford Park when it opened as a thoroughbred horse racing track in 1951. The complex has since grown to include a 360-room hotel, restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, a fitness center, and a 5,100-seat theater and events center, in addition to the racetrack and the casino.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the track was floundering, and in 1981 the state legislature passed and county residents endorsed Sunday racing in an effort to keep the facility operating. Nevertheless, Waterford closed in 1983, reopening in 1984 after the legislature granted tax concessions. In 1990, as a Lottery Commission pilot project, the first 165 video lottery machines were installed at the track. MTR Gaming Group purchased the track, then known as Mountaineer Park, in 1992. The track’s fortunes began to improve with the passage of the Racetrack Video Lottery Act of 1994. By the year 2000, more than $1 billion was being wagered at Mountaineer’s video slot machines annually, more than 50 times as much as was taken from live horseracing. In 2007, the West Virginia Legislature authorized local option elections on allowing table games at race tracks. Hancock County voters approved them for the Mountaineer Racetrack, and table games were offered there in fall 2007.
The resort is a major employer in Hancock County. Out-of-state gamblers account for many of the visitors. However, Ohio (2009) and Pennsylvania (2010) have authorized expanded gambling operations, including table games. The impact of competition from these sources is not yet clear.
Mountaineer hosts the West Virginia Derby, a nationally recognized race for three-year-olds and the centerpiece of the track’s year-round thoroughbred racing program. The race is broadcast on ESPN and has attracted Triple Crown participants.
Mountaineer Casino was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Read the National Register nomination.
Last Revised on January 25, 2013