STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Indiana lawmakers considering casino moves, sports betting

A shake-up of Indiana's gambling laws being debated could see two new casinos being built and allow legalizing sports betting to start as early as next year.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 9:50 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A shake-up of Indiana's gambling laws being debated could see two new casinos being built and allow legalizing sports betting to start as early as next year.

The proposal cleared a state Senate committee last week and comes as Indiana's 13 casinos have largely seen years of declining revenue amid increased competition from surrounding states and tribal casinos.

The plan centers on moving Gary's two riverboat casinos off Lake Michigan, with one going to an on-land site elsewhere in Gary and the other possibly moving to Terre Haute. Lots of debate could still come as some other casinos worry the moves will hurt their business and the plan will face questions among legislators of whether it is an expansion of gambling.

Here's a look at some of the issues involved:

POSSIBLE BUMPS AHEAD

So many gambling-related issues are wrapped up in the bill that Senate Public Policy Committee Chairman Ron Alting of Lafayette calls it the biggest overhaul since the Legislature voted in 1993 to allow riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River.

Each casino company and their host cities are looking at how the proposed changes could impact their bottom lines. So even though the Senate committee unanimously endorsed the bill, plenty of changes could come before the legislative session ends in late April. Less complicated casino proposals have previously been scuttled or taken multiple years to win approval.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma critiques the plan as "a very large expansion of gaming."

The state gets big paydays from all the casinos, but that impact has been shrinking. Casino taxes made up nearly $680 million, or about 5.5 percent, of the state revenue during the 2010 budget year, according to state figures. That revenue dropped to $442 million last year, for about 2.8 percent of state revenue.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper says the plan aims to help the casinos be more competitive and increase state revenue. "With no additional licenses and no additional table games, I don't know how you can call it an expansion of gaming," he said.

GARY CASINO SHUFFLE

The proposal would allow the company that's buying the two Majestic Star Casino boats in Gary build a new on-land casino in the city and set up a process for shifting the second boat's casino license to Terre Haute.

The company buying the Gary riverboats is Spectacle Entertainment. It is led by former executives of Centaur Gaming, which sold Indiana's two horse track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. last year for $1.7 billion.

Spectacle says it's planning a $300 million project building a new casino and 200-room hotel along Interstate 80-94 in Gary. John Keeler, Spectacle's general counsel, told the Senate committee that it expected to add about 400 jobs to Majestic Star's 800 employees if the new casino is built.

Gary officials say the casino move would also allow development of a cargo hub, with a Lake Michigan port and nearby railroads and highways to attract shipping business now going through Chicago.

TERRE HAUTE PLAN

Terre Haute and Vigo County (total population about 110,000) is the choice for a new casino site over much larger locations without casinos — including Indianapolis (population 950,000) and Fort Wayne's Allen County (370,000) — simply because leaders there are asking for it and potential rival cities have shown little interest.

A Spectacle co-owner is from Terre Haute and the company touts a casino project of at least $100 million that would have 300 to 400 workers.

At least one other casino operator in the state wants a chance to grab the Terre Haute action, so the proposal allows companies to submit proposals for the new casino to the state gaming commission. Full House Resorts, which owns the riverboat in southeastern Indiana's Rising Sun, has sought permission for the last several years to expand operations elsewhere in the state.

Messmer, the casino bill sponsor, says Terre Haute is far enough from other Indiana casinos that it won't hurt them much while potentially attracting gamblers from eastern and central Illinois as none of that state's casinos are nearby.

HORSE TRACK CASINOS

Caesars Entertainment, which owns the Hammond casino and another just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, gets a boost from the plan for the two horse track casinos near Indianapolis that it bought last year.

The bill would allow those two casinos to offer table games with live dealers beginning later this year. Current law doesn't let them do so until 2021.

Those casinos can now only offer electronic games and expect live dealers will attract more gamblers.

SPORTS BETTING

The proposal would allow the state's casinos to start sports betting in person or online starting in 2020 after receiving approval from the Indiana Gaming Commission. Wagers could be made on professional or collegiate sporting events, but not on high school or youth games. Those placing bets would have to be 21.

The step comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last May that all states are free to legalize sports betting. Eight states currently accept bets with many more expected to follow suit.

No big state tax revenue boon is anticipated from sports gambling, as other states have seen modest results . Bill co-sponsor Sen. Jon Ford of Terre Haute says tax revenue estimates range from $3 million to $18 million a year, but sports betting will be an important marketing tool for Indiana's casinos.

Officials from the Indianapolis Colts and Indianapolis Motor Speedway were among those professional sports representatives backing the proposal.

West Lafayette
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 34°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 32°
Rensselaer
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Fowler
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 34°
Williamsport
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 34°
Crawfordsville
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 33°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 33°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 35°
Monticello
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 35°
Logansport
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 32°
A sunny and mild day is expected! Changes arrive through the weekend
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
St. Joseph49493645
Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
Hendricks26181383
Porter25556386
Madison21002452
Clark20146278
Vigo18966309
LaPorte17115261
Delaware16666300
Howard16666313
Monroe16556220
Kosciusko14216167
Hancock13061185
Bartholomew12894190
Warrick12152190
Wayne12036268
Floyd11968226
Grant11901242
Morgan10360192
Boone9815122
Noble9234122
Henry9142167
Marshall9062147
Dearborn8923100
Dubois8815139
Shelby8210129
Cass8134127
Lawrence8018185
DeKalb7761108
Jackson764093
Huntington7601113
Gibson7074118
Montgomery7052123
Harrison6923100
Knox6896115
Steuben665889
Miami6563111
Whitley655360
Putnam641584
Clinton624579
Wabash6182111
Jasper610892
Jefferson5796104
Ripley555893
Adams540581
Daviess5062117
Scott488280
Wells4814104
White475669
Greene4680100
Clay462862
Decatur4597110
Jennings448867
Fayette448396
LaGrange425990
Posey407544
Randolph3908107
Washington389856
Fountain373464
Fulton362474
Spencer360747
Starke353574
Owen351277
Sullivan347554
Orange329172
Jay328850
Rush306832
Carroll294239
Franklin290844
Perry288553
Vermillion282758
Tipton250066
Parke249630
Pike247244
Blackford221244
Pulaski208559
Newton181752
Brown176150
Crawford168829
Benton166517
Martin151820
Switzerland147212
Warren135316
Union121016
Ohio92113
Unassigned0592

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events