CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has vetoed a bill that would eliminate the state’s role in the greyhound racing industry. Both sides of the issue said the bill would effectively kill greyhound racing at the state’s two tracks.

Governor's office

Gov. Jim Justice was hugging the greyhounds in Wheeling Saturday.

There’s still a chance lawmakers could vote to override the veto today, the 60th and final day of the session, but the talk at the Capitol was that there hasn’t been that much desire to do so.

The governor went to the Northern Panhandle, where greyhound racing occurs at Wheeling Island, to make his announcement. He appeared at Independence Hall with a large crowd.

“If we get rid of greyhound racing it will mean job losses and fewer people coming to West Virginia,” Justice later stated in a release.

“Eliminating support for the greyhounds is a job killer and I can’t sign it. The last thing we need to do is drive more people out of West Virginia. We can’t turn our back on communities like Wheeling that benefit from dog racing.”

In his veto message, Justice questioned the legality of the Legislature unilaterally decoupling West Virginia casinos and race tracks because counties authorized gaming and racing as a package deal. Justice said that SB 437 would also jeopardize the health of the state’s casino industry.

Justice stated, “Greyhounds are born runners, and I hope to keep them running in West Virginia for a very long time.”

“We can’t turn our back on dog racing in WV!” Justice said in a tweet about his veto.