A Video Gaming Coalition made up of trade groups in Indiana hosted a special event at the Patrician Banquet Center on October 12 to promote and push for the legalization of video gaming terminals (VGTs) at bars and clubs across the state. Over 40 business people from nearby localities attended the event which is part of a statewide promotional tour.
The Indiana Bowling Centers Association, Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, and the Indiana Amusement & Music Operators Association are all part of the coalition who want state legislators to allow VGT’s in non-casino establishments.
Next door, Illinois legalized VGTs back in 2009. The ten casinos in Illinois are allowed to have a maximum of 1,200 VGTs each. According to the report as of June 30, 2016 there were 23,891 VGTs throughout the state and the by the time full implementation of VGTs are completed, there will be around 25,000 available. The balance of machines in Illinois, which compete directly with the established casinos, are in small mom and pop operations. Any establishment with a liquor license is allowed to install a small bank of gaming machines.
The Indiana coalition wants state legislators to amend the gaming law to allow them to also host VGTs at bars and clubs.
Based on what has occurred in Illinois, Indiana casino operators may be right to be concerned as a recent state-commissioned report called ‘Wagering in Illinois’ showed all three traditional sources of gambling revenue in the state in decline. The report revealed that casino gambling, horse racing and the state lottery have experienced a drop in revenue and only the video gambling industry continues to grow in Illinois. Casino operators have begun buying up mom and pop operations in order to recapture part of the dwindling market there.
The casino industry generates a significant amount of gaming tax revenue for the state government and some warn that legalizing VGTs for Indiana bars and clubs could be harmful to casino revenues.
The Video Gaming Coalition does not agree with this argument stating that there are a number of reasons why the casino industry is in decline, including competition from nearby casinos in other states, and that allowing bars and clubs to host video gaming machines will generate an additional $165 million in revenue for Indian via gaming taxes.