West Virginia has chosen to accept many different forms of gambling. There are racetracks, casino gaming, and sports gaming available in the Mountain State.
However, West Virginia also wants to be sure that its residents gamble responsibly. Gambling treatment centers, as well as a state agency that oversees gambling, are awarding grants to educational programs. These programs teach youngsters how to gamble wisely.
A Catholic church in Inwood, which is in the Eastern Panhandle, received one of the grants funded by a gambling rehabilitation program. St. Leo Catholic Church has a community youth education program that focuses on responsible gambling.
Gambling in West Virginia
Casino gambling has been legal in West Virginia since 1994. The state currently has seven casinos, which have nearly 10,000 slot machines and nearly 250 table games. Poker is the most popular table game in the state, and the casinos offer several varieties. They include Texas Hold’em, Limit Hold’em, No Limit Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha 8 or Better, and Omaha Regular.
The casinos also offer resort space, convention center space, and concert space. That allows visitors to extend their stays and enjoy the beautiful West Virginia scenery. In addition, the state recently legalized sports gaming, which allows people who visit the casinos to bet on sports teams. West Virginia is also slated to open its borders to online gaming as well, including online sports gaming. Estimates show that West Virginia sees approximately $45 million each month in gaming revenue.
The Responsible Gaming Program
St. Leo Catholic Church received a $5,000 grant to help with responsible gaming programs and youth gaming prevention. The program is available to both the youth in its congregation, as well as the youth in the community of Inwood. The church plans to offer programming on the odds of winning at particular gambling games and setting responsible limitations. It also plans to stress the importance of only gaming for entertainment. It wants people to understand that they shouldn’t use gambling to get money for everyday necessities, such as food and rent. It will also focus on how to know if you have a gambling problem. The church has offered responsible gaming programs in the past. But, the grant allows it to expand the program into the community.
Problem Gambling in West Virginia
Researchers estimate nearly half the population of the state has visited casinos, and more than 40 percent play slot machines. In addition, researchers estimate that approximately 3 percent of all gamblers are problem gamblers. That is a little higher than the national average. The reason is because the unemployment rate in West Virginia is higher than the national average. This is especially true in rural areas. The rate can average more than 10 percent, and, in some rural areas, it is more than 15 percent.
Some people have been against gambling from the beginning. But, others have noted, in areas where casino or racetrack gambling is, there are more jobs coming into the community. That includes not only the casinos and racetracks but also hotels, restaurants, and shops that benefit from additional visitors.
It is apparent that gambling is West Virginia is here to stay. However, it is also apparent that the state is taking the potential pitfalls of gambling seriously as well. It wants to make sure its citizens gamble responsibly. They need to know their limitations, set budgets for themselves, and learn to see gambling as a form of entertainment. They also need to see it as a way for their fellow citizens to find and keep jobs that pay well.
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