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Gen Con threatens to leave Indy over religious freedom bill; Tourism, City leaders fear the worst

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 24, 2015)-- Indiana's controversial religious freedom bill passed the Senate again Tuesday with a 40-10 vote, which now sends the bill to Governor Mike Pence's desk. On Monday, the House passed the bill 63-31.

The bill passed the state Senate last month 40-10 and passed the House Judiciary committee 9-4 earlier this month.

Opponents claim the bill would allow Indiana business owners to refuse service to customers based on their religious beliefs. Supporters of the bill argue the measure is needed to protect Indiana business owners from too much government control.

Monday night, Yahoo Sports analyst and the first openly gay pro athlete Jason Collins took to Twitter to voice his concerns about discrimination during the Final Four.

On Tuesday, Gen Con released a statement saying the bill will factor into their decision-making on hosting the convention in Indiana.

"Anytime something impacts our ability to market Indianapolis and drive convention business  we of course get concerned," said Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy.

The convention welcomed over 50,000 visitors from every state and 40 different countries last year. It pumped roughly $50 million into the local economy.

"Certainty losing Gen Con is not something we want. It would be a huge loss," said Gahl.

Gahl says Gen Con is the first major convention to raise concern over the legislation, however, other events have reached out to Visit Indy inquiring about the potential impact it would have. Leaders with Visit Indy spoke with administrators of Gen Con to reassure them that Indianapolis is still a welcoming city.

Following Gen Con's statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Pence's office said, "The Governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don't have anything to add at this time."

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Zach Adamson has opposed the legislation from the start. He believes that the bill allows retailers to legally discriminate.

"This is utter discrimination. This isn't about religious freedom," said Adamson.

Actor George Takei posted a statement on his Facebook page, which read in part, "If it goes into effect, Indiana will be marked as a state where certain people are not welcome, and so we will not visit. We will not spend. And we will not attend events, including Gen Con, the world’s largest gaming convention, held in Indianapolis each year."

Gov. Pence released this statement Monday after the bill passed the House:

 “The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.  I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue.  I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.”

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee also joined in on the conversation:

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