Regulating or Reducing?

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Brian Harrell believes video lottery should be regulated.

"Gambling is a losing proposition for almost everybody who plays," said the Parkersburg minister.

But the owner of a video lottery business believes regulation already is a reality.

"We have achieved (Governor Bob Wise's) goals of restricting, reducing and regulating this industry," Fittro said.

But the number of establishments having video lottery games has grown substantially in recent years, particularly in the past year. Wood County can't put a halt to the growth, but county leaders believe it can be slowed down a bit.

"It's not saying you can't have these businesses," said Wood County Prosecutor Ginny Conley. "It just says certain limitations are to be placed on them to promote the community we want to have here."

A liquor license is required to have video lottery in an establishment, but people who spoke at the public hearing say some video lottery businesses that have liquor permits don't sell alcohol.

The owner of a Williamstown Lodge, which has had video lottery, is concerned about businesses in that city jumping on the bandwagon.

"They just sat back, figured out where all the top locations were, and now they're trying to move in on them," said Jim Murphy, who runs the Order of Redmen Lodge in Williamstown. "I suppose that's legal, but it takes all the businessman out of it."

Fittro, who owns just one business, isn't convinced the proposed law is constitutional. She was asked if the issue should go to a voter referendum.

"It wouldn't bother me if it did," Fittro replied. "Let the people speak."