Wheeling Island, with a history that predates the Civil War, was once home to West Virginia’s version of Coney Island. Flooding of the surrounding Ohio River sunk that venture more than 100 years ago, but what rose in its place – the Wheeling Downs – has grown and evolved into a full-service gaming and entertainment venue.
|Address:||1 South Stone Street, Wheeling, WV 26003|
|Horse race betting:||Yes|
Greyhound and horse racing
Created in 1866 as a thoroughbred and harness racing facility, the current iteration of the track dates back to 1937.
In 1976, it made a complete transition from horse racing to greyhound racing, and now it runs a full schedule of live races Wednesday through Sunday. On national holiday Mondays, like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day, it also runs a schedule of 15 to 20 races.
If you can’t make it to the track but still want to watch the greyhounds race, a live stream can be viewed on your computer or phone, typically at 1 p.m. EST.
Available wagers include win/place/show, quinella (two dogs in any order), perfecta (two dogs in exact order), trifecta (three dogs in exact order), key trifecta (three dogs- one keyed to win), trifecta box (three dogs in any order), and superfecta (four dogs in exact order).
The simulcast racing of dogs and horses from across the country opens at noon every day and completes the calendar with seven days a week of racing.
The simulcast parlor features 120 individual wagering and viewing cubicles and a wall of big screen TVs. The complete schedule of simulcast races is released approximately five days before each new month of racing begins.
Other gaming options
The casino features more than 1,100 slot machines and table games, like blackjack, craps, and roulette.
There is also a non-smoking, nine-table poker room open 120 hours per week. Wheeling offers electronic registration and tableside drink service, as well as games and tournaments that include limit and no limit Texas hold ‘em, seven-card stud, and Omaha.
A $100 bonus is given hourly to the first Texas hold ‘em player to hit one of the posted hands using both hole cards. If no one hits it that hour, the $100 rolls over to the next.
Other facility amenities
Wheeling Island features food choices for a variety of tastes. There is a food court offering pizza, burgers, and a deli open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offering late night hours until 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
They also provide an all-you-can-eat buffet open Tuesday through Sunday, with prime rib offered on Saturdays and a Sunday brunch.
If something on the finer side of dining is for you, The Pointe is your best option. The premiere restaurant offers four kinds of steaks, prime rib, a raw bar, and lobster tails.
Three bars with hours as late as 2 a.m., a coffee bar, a 151-room hotel, banquet and meeting space, and a 1,000-seat showroom featuring live musical and comedy acts round out the entertainment offerings.
Promotions and rewards
The promotions begin with weekend greyhound racing and Saturdays’ and Sundays’ In The Money promotion. Pick the most dogs to finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in races 3 to 8, and you win the jackpot.
On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s the Lucky North 5, which is the same competition as In The Money but for races 1 through 5.
Other promotions inside the casino include Jumping For Jackpots, which gives away a trip to Las Vegas to one of the guests who hit a jackpot on an Everi slot machine that day.
On Wednesday, it’s Senior Dayz, which gives anyone 50 and older who has also accumulated 50 points on that day a chance to win their share of $5,000 in free plays.
There are also Cookin’ Up Cash days, which give away $800,000 in cash and free plays.
On Thursdays, its Tierz Day Extravaganza, where members of the Lucky North Club emerald tier and above can win up to $5,000.
Membership in the Lucky North Club is free and only requires a valid ID to join.
Points are accumulated as you play, with $5 slot and racing wagers earning one point and $10 table plays also earning one point. A total of 100 points equals $1, which can be used for cash back and discounts on food, concert tickets, and hotel rooms.
The casino’s past and future
Wheeling Island has long been one of the featured playgrounds of the Ohio River Valley, dating back to the 19th century.
The island has always been a place for entertainment, from swimming beaches, to the early days of water skiing, to state fairgrounds and amusement parks, to horse racing as far back as the Civil War. It’s also one of the most resilient places in the Ohio River Valley, suffering no fewer than 46 floods in the last 100 years.
But the island goes on, as does its casino and racetrack. In 1976, it successfully transitioned from horses to greyhounds. Following new legislation in 1994, slot machines were added, transitioning the facility from a track only, to a track and casino. In 2007, gaming tables were legalized. Now in 2018, sportsbooks have been legalized.
Delaware North, which just recently purchased the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort in Cross Lanes, West Virginia (and which now owns and operates the only two remaining dog tracks in the state) is already making noise about adding sports gaming facilities.
With the speed in which other companies are moving into the newly legalized and fertile grounds of sports gambling in America, it would be surprising to see a company as large and diverse as Delaware North stand pat.
It is now all-in on making West Virginia a growing hub of its entertainment and hospitality business, so along with new sportsbooks, online and mobile gaming will likely be coming soon.