The primary issue is the 2017 shutdown of an obsolete communications protocol that will effectively render some four-fifths of the 7,400 LVL terminals in the state as useless.
Options are to let the machines go dark, losing four years' of value on the 10-year licenses; buy new machines at $12,000 to $16,000 a pop; or buy conversion kits that will run anywhere between $1,200 and $3,600, depending on the machines and software upgrades ordered.
The conversion kits are a gamble, in that the operators would be putting them into 15 to 20-year-old Game King machines for which replacement parts like motherboards and CPUs are no longer available.
In one case, it also means replacing current games with software containing different games that may or may not be popular with the regular patrons.
Though the meeting was civil, it was clear the operators and retailers are not happy about the circumstances. One commented, "We just spent millions of dollars on our licenses, and halfway through, you're telling us our games are obsolete."
Howard Mullens, who had been deputy secretary of Transportation, last week transferred over to the Department of Revenue in the newly created position of special assistant and legislative liaison.
Apparently, a sexual harassment complaint at the Department of Transportation prompted the transfer. Mullens didn't return calls.
Finally, the entourage for the 13-day state trade mission to Europe, which continues through next Tuesday, includes Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, two State Police troopers (I wouldn't go to France without two bodyguards, either); Hallie Mason, the governor's director of public policy; Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, state Development Office international development director Steve Spence, and international economic development representative Angela Mascia.
Mascia, who is fluent in five languages, made headlines some years back regarding her involvement with then-Gov. Bob Wise.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.