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Stan Pawloski

Feb 9, 2023

Wheeling sets record, $1.5 million handle in one day 

The two greyhound racing tracks in West Virginia, Wheeling Island and Tri-State, handled more than $350 million in 2022.

The handle represents the amount of money bet on races from on-track patrons and from simulcast outlets.

Last year, a total of $230,672,765 was bet on Wheeling greyhounds while $121,033,046 was wagered on Tri-State racers. The combined amount was $351,705,811.

The total handle in 2022 was down about $7.3 million, or 2 percent, from the $359 million bet in 2021, however, the two state greyhound tracks ran 771 less races last year, or 8.4 percent, compared to 2021. Wheeling had 453 less races while Tri-State had 318 fewer.

At Wheeling Island in 2021, the track held 20 races from January through mid-November when the number was reduced to 17. In 2022, Wheeling only had 17 races from January through the first week in July when the card increased to 20 races.

Tri-State went from 16 races a card in 2021 to 15 a program for all of 2022.

In addition, the handle per race in West Virginia in 2022 was $42,025 – up from $39,288 per race in 2021.

Wheeling’s 2022 handle of $230.6 million was more than three times the $75 million handled in 2019. In 2020, the track was closed for three months due COVID.

This year, Wheeling Island broke its own national single day handle record for greyhound racing at one track on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 4.

The total wagered on-track and off-track on Wheeling Island greyhounds was $1,527,075, surpassing the $1,487,335 bet on greyhounds at Wheeling on May 7, 2021.

Tri-State handled $837,531 the same day Wheeling surpassed the record – giving the two tracks a total of $2,364,606 on one day.

Wheeling also had daily handles of $1,341,718 and $1,262,174 in January of this year.

As of Wednesday, Feb. 8, Wheeling had five straight days of handling more than $1 million a day.

Back in 2020 when the West Virginia Senate defeated a bill targeting greyhound racing, then-Sen. Bill Ihlenfeld of Wheeling saw the potential future for the sport in the state.

“There aren’t many industries in our state that we control. We’re getting close to being the only game in town when it comes to this industry,” Ihlenfeld said. “Instead of kicking this to the curb, we ought to embrace it. We ought to modernize it. We ought to make it even better and allow even more people to send money to West Virginia.”

Ihlenfeld said the money doesn’t just benefit Ohio and Kanawha counties where the two greyhound tracks are located, but all 55 counties in the state.

“There’s a lot of gambling revenue that can be had from places like Florida and Arkansas where they’ve shut down greyhound racing,” Ihlenfeld said. “We ought to double down on the industry, we shouldn’t shut it down.”

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