LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- According to the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, more than 900 of Indiana's bars signed a petition asking the Indiana general assembly to pass legislation that would allow video gaming inside their establishments. The legalization is something bar owners say is needed to make up lost revenue due to the pandemic.
"There is a lot of people that just won't come out because of COVID and it's been rough," said Stan Balser the owner of Ben Hur Tavern in Lafayette.
That message has been echoed by bar and restaurant owners across the state of Indiana. According to the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, the legalization of video gambling could create 100 million dollars in revenue in one year.
"Many states around us already have it," said Chris Thielen the co-owner of Rookies Sports Pub in Lafayette. " We need this, especially during COVID. It's one more source of income that helps small businesses and especially the serving industry get through."
Chris Thielen and his business partner own multiple bars and restaurant establishments in the Lafayette area, he says this petition is a cry for help.
"Most of us need this," added Thielen. "We either need to get through this or we need to find other ways for everyone and their families to sustain an income."
Governor Eric Holcomb says he isn't opposed to the idea.
"I'd want to see the bill I'd want to see the language I'd want to see all the ramifications," said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.
He feels passing legislation based solely on the fact that it would create revenue, isn't good policy. He says if businesses are struggling, there are options out there.
"I don't want small business owners to wait on potential legislation because we have resources," added Governor Holcomb.
For bar owners like Stan Balser, he says this would create new opportunities.
"I would like the governor to really take a look at this instead of giving us the assistance," added Balser. "This is something that we would be earning. It would give us more revenue to do more things for the establishments and for our customers."
Allowing video gambling is something bar owners say will help the state as well.
"For a lot of us to keep moving forward, we need things like this to change," said Thielen. "This change in particular will help the state as well. The state makes 30 percent of all revenue off of it also. So it seems like a big win-win."
As of right now, there is one bill that has been filed that would allow electronic gaming in veterans' service organizations. But no bill has been filed at this time that would allow it in all bars and tavern establishments. For more details on the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association's research on legalization click here.