Located in Wheeling, West Virginia lies the tropical-themed Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack on the not-so-tropical Wheeling Island. But this river island is anything but a passing glance when you’re traveling down Interstate-70.
The casino formerly known as Wheeling Downs offers a variety of gaming experiences you don’t want to miss out on. From video lotteries (slots), live greyhound racing, off-track betting, table gaming, poker games, horse racing, and more, the Island has you covered.
So, if the casino is your thing and you’re traveling north to nearby Pittsburgh or on your way west to Columbus, discover why the West Virginia gambling scene is more than worth checking out.
The site’s racing days began even before the American Civil War and the racetrack itself was completed shortly thereafter in 1866.
The Wheeling Downs name was adopted in 1937 and because of additions and renovations in the 1940s, was given the nickname ‘mini Churchill Downs.’
In 1962, a fire severely damaged the property to the point nothing was salvageable. It took five long years to rebuild the property. In the early 1970s, Wheeling Downs reopened. However, legislation drastically reduced the size of winner’s purses and the site nearly closed down again.
During this time, Ogden Corporation bought Wheeling Downs and in 1976, it transitioned from horse to greyhound racing.
Delaware North acquired the hotel-casino-racetrack in 1988 and co-owned the location with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel from 1994 to 2001. When Delaware North purchased the property, they put it under a vast expansion project featuring a new clubhouse and entertainment accommodations.
In 1994, Wheeling Downs expanded to off-track betting and video slot games before “reel” slot games arrived in 1999. Also in 1999, the gaming center expanded to 34,000 feet and the Islander Buffet was also opened during this time.
Casino table gaming came along in 2008 along with yet another name change to Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.
Today, the property is the home of a 151-room hotel, 1,100 slot machines, showroom and meeting banquet services that accommodate 1,000 people, and 2,800 parking spaces.
It has become one of the most attractive venues in the Ohio Valley and as you can see from this section, owns a rich history that dates back over 150 years.
Casino Games Offered
As mentioned, Wheeling Island Casino’s games include over 1,100 slot machines with a variety of themes and titles. Some of the most popular themed games include Treasure Ball, Quick Hit Blitz, and Heidi and Hannah’s.
High Limit games allow you to raise the stakes a bit and what they call the Wheeling Feeling. The casino features 47 High Limit slot machines along with a smoking and non-smoking section for guests.
Some of the most popular games offered on the Island include real money craps, blackjack, roulette, and others.
The state-of-the-art poker room includes a large variety of games, including Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Low Split, and Seven Card Stud.
Of course, Wheeling Island is known better than most casinos for its greyhound racing and it remains arguably the most popular attraction. Unlike most casino rooms or sections, the racetrack is welcome to people of all ages.
And as with many casinos, sports betting is the thing here on the Island, with the Betly Sportsbook providing a fast and easy way for you to make your next bet on the sports betting scene.
Just talk with the staff on hand or head over to their kiosks conveniently located throughout the sportsbook. Wheeling Island’s Sportsbook’s hours vary, so always check the website for the latest hours and for a full rundown on house rules and start placing your sports bets.
The city of Wheeling itself is known for its dining and the casino is in the center of the action. So, if you need a break from the games, this section is for you. Wheeling Island Casino’s dining options are among the best in the food-rich area. At the time of this writing, some of the options may be limited, so be sure to check out the Wheeling Island website for updated details of what is available.
In the afternoon and evening, be sure to try The Food Court’s deli options, burgers, and Americo’s Pizzeria. The afternoon menu is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Since Wheeling Island hosts an active racetrack, you can always count on its trackside concessions located on the casino’s second floor. The concession area is open from 12:30 p.m. until the second-to-last post time from Wednesday to Saturday.
If you’re looking for monthly drink specials and live entertainment, then hit up the Waves Bar. Specials are available on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m.
If you’re looking for more variety regarding specials, the Castaways Bar and The Sandbar are also solid options.
If you’re staying for an extended period, don’t forget to grab a quick breakfast at the Crescent Moon Coffee Bar. The bar offers a variety of coffee and espresso, as well as iced Frappuccino, pastries, spreads, cakes, etc.
Finally, if fine dining is your thing, you don’t have to go far. Checkout The Pointe and it will satisfy all your needs for a night out.
Promotions and Entertainment
The casino offers daily jackpots worth thousands of dollars promotion-wise and some of their daily promos include the Change is Good Promo. So if you have jars of coins laying around the house—or filling up the console in your car, feel free to trade those in for stacks of dollar bills. Why not, right?
As the casino continues its reopening phase in the coming months you can expect even greater promos and entertainment.
Lucky North Club
Perhaps it’s the most notable promotion Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack has to offer. The Lucky North Club allows you to earn points that are redeemable for same-day cashback, casino comps, and other promotional benefits.
Through the club, you’ll also receive exclusive event-related promotions and bonuses. The five-level membership structure allows you to automatically move up once you accumulate enough points.
Best yet, membership is free. So, if you’re in the Wheeling area often or if you pass through regularly, this is a special promotion you’ll want to check out.
Local lingo tells the myth that there’s nothing to see in the Ohio Valley, but it’s just that. A myth. Speaking of myths and legends, if you want to take a break from the action there are a few nearby attractions you’ll want to check out.
The first is the world-famous West Virginia State Penitentiary located in nearby Moundsville. After closing its doors in 1995, the Penitentiary has been a focal point of paranormal activity and restless souls of those who died within the prison’s walls.
Some of the most popular TV shows such as ‘Most Terrifying Places in America.’ It was also the filming site of Hulu original series Castle Rock, based on the original work of Stephen King.
Another popular attraction Moundsville offers is the Grave Creek Mound, built by the Adena People between 250 and 100 B.C. Hence the name ‘Moundsville.’
And across the Ohio River in nearby Bellaire, a trip to the Bellaire House is always worth a visit. Said to be the sight of a dark entity that terrorized a former homeowner and her pets, the house will definitely give you the thrill you’re seeking. Especially in the fall.
While heading in for an all-nighter or weekend stay isn’t cheap, it’s a great place to spend some of your winnings if you’re up experiencing some good old paranormal activity for yourself.
And of course, Wheeling isn’t located too far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So if you’re passing by on I-70 and turning onto Route 7 North, definitely check out all the city of Pittsburgh has to offer.
And don’t forget to check out The Meadows Racetrack & Casino (Washington County) and Rivers Casino (Pittsburgh), which are also located in proximity to the Island.
Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack embraces a rich history from humble beginnings as a horse racing track. And through various purchases, it has expanded to greyhound racing, slots, table games, and poker rooms.
The casino now offers a sportsbook along with an accommodating hotel, entertainment, and dining options.
After all that the city of Wheeling, West Virginia, and the Ohio Valley has gone through with the crash of the steel industry, this storied location has literally made it through thick and thin.
Now that you know a little about this historic landmark it’s your turn to come to the Valley and check it out. Have you made a trip to the Island? And if so, how was the experience? Let us know.