A gaming bill that could redefine the entire Indiana market has passed Senate, with its fate now in the hands of the house.
Senate lawmakers in Indiana have passed a “once in a generation” gaming bill that would allow two existing casinos to move premises, allow horse-track sites to operate table games and pave the way for sports wagering.
It is now up to the House to consider the legislation – authored by senators Mark Messmer and Jon Ford – following its passage through the senate by 38-11 votes.
Should it be enacted the Majestic Star I and Majestic Star II riverboat casino properties would be able to relocate to central land-based sites – one of which is guaranteed in the bill and the other dependant on winning out in a competitive bidding process
Spectacle Entertainment – currently in the process of buying both facilities – would be permitted as part of the bill to site one of the licences in Gary and submit the latter into a tendering process for a location in Terre Haute.
Furthermore the bill would do away with the current two-licence limit on the number of casinos that one company can concurrently operate in Indiana in order to make the most of the bidding process.
Messmer commented the competitive tender is important in making sure Terre Haute and the state get the best possible breadth of proposals and ultimate outcome from the undertaking.
This was not always to be the case however, for a mere week before the vote has held on the bill the provisions for a bidding process were removed by the Senate Appropriations Committee before the full Senate added it back in.
The move has received a great deal of support from state officials, not only from those associated to the new locales – enthused by the
promise of increased economic activity – but by those where the casinos are currently to be found as they look to clear the area for new development projects.
There is however opposition within the House with speaker Brian Bosma having repeatedly stated that he sees the proposal as an expansion of gambling, contrary to the view of the senate majority.
“I don’t see this as an expansion of gaming,” Senator Eddie Melton said. “I see this as an opportunity to leverage our existing assets.”
A key tenet of this is the establishing of a casino on the state border in Gary as to stop gaming spend bleeding into neighbouring jurisdictions. During a public hearing on the bill it was reported that 13 of Indiana’s casinos have seen revenues dip as out-of-state properties grow in stature.
In 2018 these properties produced $442m between them, some 2.8 percent of the state’s overall revenue, yet back in 2010 these figures were $680m and 5.5 percent respectively.