It is only a matter of time until Maryland, just now taking the plunge on legalized gambling, dives into the proverbial deep end of the pool - full-scale table gambling casinos. When that happens, West Virginia will lose more gambling revenue.
During the past year or so, the star among the Mountain State's four casinos has been at Charles Town. There, casino gambling is relatively new and suffers little from competition in Pennsylvania that has hurt our two table gambling facilities in the Northern Panhandle (the other casino is at Cross Lanes, near Charleston).
But Charles Town is within just a few minutes' drive of both Maryland and Virginia, neither of which has table gambling. That helps the West Virginia casino lure players from both those states.
Maryland legalized slot machines about four years ago. Reportedly, state revenue from the machines has not lived up to expectations. That may well prompt Marylanders to approve table gambling casinos - and once that happens, fewer people from that state and Virginia will come to West Virginia to lose their money.
Gambling revenue already is declining in West Virginia. With casinos on the way in Ohio, stiff competition in Pennsylvania and the prospect of more of it in Maryland, the situation is likely to grow worse.
As we have suggested for years, state officials need to be doing more to find ways to compensate for gambling revenue on which we have become too reliant.
Again, state revenue from gambling already has declined. A bigger tumble is on the way.
Bet on it.