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Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack

Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack is a greyhound racing track and gambling center located on Wheeling Island in the city of Wheeling. In 1937, the facility, then known as Wheeling Downs, opened for harness racing as a half-mile horse track on the grounds of the State Fair Park. Races were held from late May to late June and from late August to late September. The parimutuel system of betting was used.

Wheeling Downs never was a big-money horse track, and a 1962 fire ended racing until 1968. Harness racing resumed from 1969 to 1975. The track’s future was assured with the passage of a dog racing bill by the state legislature in 1975. Almost $1 million was spent to convert Wheeling Downs to dog racing, which began in 1976. Greyhound racing continues year-round at Wheeling Downs, but it is secondary to video slot machines and table games. The West Virginia Lottery Commission approved the first 400 machines in 1994, and in 2004 there were 2,183 machines at the track. In 2007, after the West Virginia Legislature authorized local option voting on casino gambling, Ohio County voters approved a proposal to allow the establishment of table games at the track. Those games were instituted by the end of 2007.

A major expansion of the physical plant was completed in 2003 at a cost of $68 million. The expansion provided 30,000 more square feet for additional slot machines. In addition, the company opened a deluxe 150-room hotel designed with a tropical theme and decor including a waterfall in the grand foyer. The hotel includes conference and meeting space. In addition, the company expanded its food service operations with the addition of a fine-dining restaurant, a casual restaurant, a food court, and a bar and lounge. The expansion included the addition of a 600-seat multipurpose showroom and a new paddock facility as well as a new off-site kennel compound. Sports betting was added in 2019.

Written by Joseph Platania