Governor Mike Pence says he opposes a plan to expand gambling in Indiana, but some lawmakers say something needs to be done to improve the state’s gaming industry or the state risks losing tens of millions of dollars each year.
“February reports indicated that our games revenue was down considerably, I think anywhere from 13 to 20 percent,” said State Sen. Phil Boots, R-District 23.
A bill that has already passed out of the Senate and is now being discussed in a House committee calls for a measure to add live table games at Indiana’s two racing track casinos. There are also other enhancements the bill’s authors believe will help compete with out of state casinos.
Indiana’s surrounding states are ramping up their gaming industries. The new $400 million dollar Horseshoe Casino opened its doors across the border in Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier this month.
“I think Ohio has taken the position that, ‘Hey, they’ve waited too many years to see the money go to Indiana.’ They’re not only going play catch up, they’re expecting to go by us,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-District 25 and co-author of the bill.
Senator Lanane said this bill is not an expansion but an enhancement.
“We are taking what we have and we are improving it so that we can compete with the competition that’s going to be real, real soon and it’s going to impact the state of Indiana.”
The gaming industry is one of the top revenue sources for the state. Money from gaming funds education, road maintenance and countless local services.
“I’m certain we can come to some common ground with the governor and other legislators to help our gaming industry,” said Boots.
Since the opening of Indiana’s first riverboat casino in 1995, the gaming industry has been responsible for $10 billion in tax payments to state and local governments.