Group of lawmakers calling for live casino dealers

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A group of Indiana lawmakers is pushing for changes to the state’s gaming laws that would allow for live table games and dealers at Indiana’s racinos.

The legislators gathered Friday outside Hoosier Park in front of 600 silhouettes that represented the 600 jobs they say would be added if live dealers were allowed at the casinos in their districts in Anderson and Shelbyville.

“This is not an expansion of gaming, this is just a simple change in the law,” said Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, who called for such a change on the house floor Thursday night, but didn’t ask for a vote. Instead, the lawmakers are hoping the provision allowing live dealers can be added back into the gaming bill during final negotiations between the House and Senate.

“We can make this simple change and put Hoosiers back to work,” said state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson. “We have so much at stake.”

Still, some opponents say this might not be the year to pass such a bill.

“They say it’s not an expansion of gaming, but most of us call it an expansion,” said Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero. “I don’t think the will of the General Assembly is to expand this year.”

“For the communities where these facilities exist, it’s really all about jobs and economic development,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

“I know there are legislators that see this differently,” said Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg. “But I think we have to reassure them that gaming is gaming. We have gaming, this is just going to give people an opportunity to have fun and do what they want.”

Some casino visitors who talked to Fox 59 Friday said they would welcome the change.

“It’d be more fun to sit there and have a live dealer,” said John Ripperdam of Anderson.

One version of the gaming bill already passed the Senate. The version up for a final vote next week in the House does not include live dealers, a provision that would have to be added in conference committee between now and the end of the session on April 29.

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