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Anti-gambling group seeks study on gray machines

by Gail Marsh

ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR

CHARLESTON -- A Clarksburg lobbyist with the West Virginia Coalition against Gambling Expansion (CAGE) is asking legislators to take the time to consider both the social and economic impact of the governor's bill that would legalize video poker machines.

Michael Queen, senior partner with Queen, Hunter, Park & Farmer Inc., said CAGE's proposal asks the Legislature to create a gambling impact study commission to evaluate the impact of existing state gambling and the effect of the expansion of "convenience" gambling, such as gray machines in neighborhood outlets.

On Wednesday, Dr. Timothy Kelly, executive director of a national gambling study commission, testified before a legislative hearing about the negative impact the governor's proposal could have on the state.

The study found that convenience gambling provides fewer economic benefits and creates potentially greater social costs by making gambling more accessible. The commission recommends that states considering introducing new forms of gambling to sponsor a comprehensive impact study, Queen said.

CAGE proposes that the Legislature allow the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration to issue one-year permits to current machine owners to operate certain gray machines until the impact study could be completed by the end of November. At that time, the commission could make a more informed recommendation to the legislature for next year's consideration, Queen said.

Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at gmarsh@exponent-telegram.com.

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