In an effort to build support for legislation to cut casinos' table games tax rates and licensing fees, and to shift a portion of the horse and dog purse funds to support Senior Services (SB455), casino lobbyists are circulating a map showing the 14 competing casinos and "racinos" that have sprung up in Pennsylvania and Ohio in just the past five years.
I remarked that it reminded me of maps of the siege of Petersburg in 1865, with Lee's army surrounded by Northern aggressors on three sides (and we know how that turned out).
Other than the ability of Wheeling Island and Mountaineer to comp hotel rooms on the grounds, there's no viable reason for people in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Columbus metropolitan areas to drive past newer, bigger, glitzier casinos in order to patronize the Northern Panhandle facilities.
Meanwhile, official word from Lottery Commission is that Director John Musgrave wants to thoroughly review the legislation before making any comment.
Point well taken from Chuck Hamsher with Coalition for a Tobacco Free West Virginia: The nine new casinos and racinos in Ohio that are draining customers and revenue away from the Wheeling Island and Mountaineer racetrack-casinos are all smoke-free.
While Musgrave testified last week that Nitro's Mardi Gras casino has fared better against the Ohio competition, presumably because of its easy access for I-64 travelers, Hamsher noted it is also the only smoke-free casino in West Virginia.
(Or, as I commented last Friday, whilst crowded into a jam-packed Red Carpet Lounge: "Good thing the smoking ban killed the bar business, or we'd really be crammed in here.")
Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, has a new office near Senate chambers, thanks to a $15,590 renovation of office space that in the old days had been the steno pool, and more recently had housed Republican legislative analysts and interns.
Meanwhile, Sen. Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan has fancied up his office in the West Wing with the addition of a gas fireplace, which he paid for himself.
Finally, if this were a normal year, the legislative session would have ended at midnight. Instead, we've still got 30 days to go.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.