CHARLESTON - A conservative Christian activist group has given its lawyer the go-ahead to file a suit asking a federal court to overturn a state law allowing four counties to vote on table games.
The West Virginia Family Foundation believes the West Virginia Legislature was in error when it created a law to allow the four state counties that currently have racetracks and slot machines to vote to allow table games.
Foundation President Kevin McCoy said the lawsuit should be filed within the next three weeks. Elections already have taken place in two counties, Ohio and Jefferson.
Ohio County voters decided to allow table games at Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort in Chester, while Jefferson County voters rejected the idea for Charles Town Races & Slots.
McCoy said the legislation goes against a 1984 amendment which says the state owns, operates, regulates and controls lotteries. Therefore, McCoy says the individual counties do not have the right to decide if table games should be allowed.
"We're saying the legislature failed miserably when it passed this bill," McCoy said. "There's no way they can own table games."
McCoy also said he believes the 51 counties that do not have the opportunity to vote are being discriminated against, especially those who live on county lines. McCoy looked at the Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center as an example, because it is on the county line of Putnam and Kanawha counties, but only those in Kanawha County are allowed to vote.
"We think at the very least, there should be a statewide vote on this issue," McCoy said, which he believes would allow more traditional West Virginia families to voice their opinion. "They know they don't stand a chance if they allow all of West Virginia to speak at one time."
Kanawha County voters go to the polls Aug. 11, after Hancock County votes June 30.
The lawsuit filed by the foundation will be the second since May. The Supreme Court of Appeals declined to hear the first challenge.
The current lawsuit will repeat some arguments from the previous suit, and contend legislators created an artificial control by declaring table games the intellectual property of the state.