In Indiana, proposed legislation that would allow local casino operator, Spectacle Entertainment, to relocate one of its riverboat gambling licenses to a land-based site in the city of Terre Haute has reportedly passed its first hurdle after being approved by the Indiana State Senate’s Public Policy Committee.

Initial step:

According to a Thursday report from The Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper, Senate Bill 552 was unanimously endorsed following a three-hour public hearing and is now due to be sent to the Indiana State Senate’s Appropriations Committee where its potential impact on the state’s finances will be more closely examined. If it makes it through this body, the proposed measure is to purportedly be put to a vote before the full Republican-controlled Indiana State Senate.

Land-based Gary casino:

If subsequently passed by both houses of the Indiana Legislature, the proposed legislation would also allow Spectacle Entertainment to transfer its other riverboat casino license to a new $300 million land-based gambling facility to be located in the city of Gary. The firm explained that this fresh venue would incorporate a casino alongside a 200-room hotel and create 400 additional jobs while generating approximately $75 million in new revenues every year.

The Times of Northwest Indiana detailed that Spectacle is responsible for the floating Majestic Star Casino Hotel and Majestic Star Casino Hotel II in Gary’s Buffington Harbor but has been lobbying for the right to move both facilities to inland sites.

Wide-reaching changes:

Indiana State Senator Ron Alting, who leads the Indiana State Senate’s Public Policy Committee, told the newspaper that Senate Bill 552 is ‘one of the biggest gaming bills maybe in the history of Indiana with the exception of the very first one that brought gaming to Indiana’ because the measure, as written, would furthermore legalize sportsbetting, eliminate casino ownership caps and alter some gaming tax distributions.

Alting to The Times of Northwest Indiana…

“I believe that Senate Bill 552 is a thoughtful, practical and well-balanced approach to advance Indiana’s gaming industry.”

Local opposition:

However, the legislation is expected to face stern opposition from officials in the neighboring communities of Hammond and East Chicago, which host the floating Horseshoe Hammond and Ameristar East Chicago venues respectively. They have argued that allowing Spectacle to relocate its facilities would hurt their own casinos and lead to a reduction in the tax revenues they receive from gaming.

In an attempt to placate such antagonism, the Indiana State Senate’s Public Policy Committee reportedly inserted an amendment into Senate Bill 552 that would guarantee Hammond’s gaming tax revenues. Moreover, the sponsor of this modification, Indiana State Senator, Mark Messmer, promised to supply East Chicago with a similar ‘hold harmless’ protection.

‘Hold harmless’ assurances:

But Hammond Mayor, Thomas McDermott (pictured), was reportedly unimpressed with the insertion and declared that such moves would not help Horseshoe Hammond or Ameristar East Chicago if the businesses were to be hurt by a new land-based Gary casino.

McDermott to The Times of Northwest Indiana…

“For the casinos themselves, they’re not held harmless. If they lose because of the new Gary casino, the only recourse they have is to lay people off.”