Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A reminder of riverboat gambling heading downriver

Remember a hundred years ago – or was it only twenty – that riverboat gambling was the next big thing in tourism? Here in West Virginia, legislators argued for a while over whether the state should approve riverboat casino gambling as a possible new revenue source. While West Virginia argued, other states acted.

One of those was Indiana. It got a leg up in the gambling arms race, which never ends. Other states got in on the act, too, and soon enough West Virginia lost its excursion boat West Virginia  Belle to Missouri, where it was converted into a casino.

Soon enough, though, riverboat casinos were replaced by on-shore casinos. Now a relic of the riverboat gambling days is about to leave the Ohio. News reports say the casino boat at Lawrenceburg, Ind., which was replaced by a casino barge a few years ago, is about to depart for the New Orleans area or perhaps below. Is it following towboats to the Rio Parana in Argentina? No one is saying.

Now, about the gambling arms race: The West Virginia Lottery is looking ahead to the possibility that sports betting might become legal in its state. According to my former coworker Jim Workman, legislation has been introduced to allow some sports betting legally.

If West Virginia legalizes sports betting, other states will follow. It's how things work.

Louisville's sewage tunnels

Some cities along the Ohio River have combined sewage and stormwater systems. When there's a heavy rain, sewers are overwhelmed and water flows untreated into the river.

The EPA doesn't like that, as you might expect.

In Louisville, the answer is drilling tunnels under the city and the river to store the overflow until it can be pumped back up and treated.

Sounds kind of drastic, but it's probably either that or spend billions on a new collector system that prevents stormwater and what is politely called wastewater from ever mingling in the first place.

(This story brought back memories of the early and mid 1980s. In 1984 and 1985, I claimed the unofficial world sewer writing championship. I was covering Lawrence County, Ohio, for the Huntington WV paper at the time, and it seemed that every town along the river needed major improvements to its collection and treatment systems. But that's an entry for another day.).