Governor allows Indiana gaming bills to pass

Governor allows Indiana gaming bills to pass

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 Totally Gaming
Governor Pence will allow riverboat casinos, such as the Ameristar, to move on land

Indiana’s riverboat casinos are set to come on to dry land after the US state’s governor allowed the passing of two gaming bills but vetoed the third.

Governor Mike Pence, an opponent of the gambling industry, did not use his veto to stop the progress of HEA 1540 and SEA 252, but did halt HEA 1270, which allows advance deposit wagering (ADW), expanding gambling on horse races to include not only in-person bets, but also those made by electronic means.

HEA 1540 allows riverboat casinos to move on land within their current footprint, outlines procedures for legislative ratification of a tribal gaming compact negotiated between the Governor and the Pokagaon Band of the Potawatomi Indians, as well as establishing caps for casinos and racinos.

SEA 252 allows the Horse Racing Commission to use breed development funds to promote the horse racing industry, and codifies the current standards regarding days of racing as previously established by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

Pence would not put his signature to the bills, but admitted the promise of a boost to state funds was an enticing prospect.

Pence said: “Most residents of Indiana know that I oppose an expansion of gaming in the state, but I recognise that gaming has become an important part of the economy of many communities in our state and is an important part of our state budget.

“From early in the legislative process, I made it clear that I would not stand in the way of reforms that would allow these businesses to remain competitive with surrounding states so long as it did not constitute an expansion of gaming in Indiana.

“HEA 1540 and SEA 252 meet this standard and, as such, I will permit them to become law without signature.”

Until now, Indiana law has authorised 10 riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, one land-based casino in French Lick, and racinos at the state’s two horse tracks.

In April 2015 Indiana’s 13 casinos announced gaming win of $187.7m (€171m), compared to $194.1m in April 2014. They registered 1.47 million admissions, compared to 1.54 million a year ago.

From that, the operators paid $61.9m in tax, compared to $64.9m in April 2014.

Local operators believe the decline is due to competition in the area of the US, most notably the video gaming terminals located in bars, truck stops and other locations in Illinois.

Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of the Horseshoe Hammond casino, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper: “There's continued pressure that won't subside.”

Referring to HEA 1270, Pence added: “This legislation is contrary to my long-time position against online gaming.

“ADW, not currently permitted in Indiana, would also violate my position on expanding gaming here in Indiana.”

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