The casino industry generally receives a bad rap from anti-casino groups as they believe the industry causes more harm than good to the local communities. Many anti-gambling activists believe that the presence of a casino in a local community increases problem gambling, prostitution, crime and money laundering.
However casinos in Northwest Indiana have generated a significant amount of revenue for the local governments which in turn has provided numerous benefits from the surrounding communities. Northwest Indiana has four riverboat casinos with the first riverboat casino opening back in 1996. Since then the casino industry in Northwest Indiana has generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue to the local governments.
Northwest Indiana is home to two Majestic Star riverboat casinos, the Horseshoe casino in Hammond, Ameristar Casino in East Chicago and the Blue Chip in LaPorte County. The Horseshoe, Ameristar and two Majestic casinos have generated in $1.4 million for Lake County while the Blue Chip has generated $302 million for LaPorte County. The four casinos have made over $20 billion during the last 20 years.
In a statement, Thomas McDermott Jr, Hammond Mayor said “It’s been wonderful for Hammond. Without gaming revenue, we would never even be able to dream about having a program like College Bound.”
The local governments rely heavily on the income generated from the casino industry and use the money to fund a number of critical community projects in social services, infrastructure development and economic revitalization. One of the special projects in Lake County’s Hammond is a college scholarship program that is funded by the casino industry.
Indiana legalized the gambling industry back in 1993 but only permitted riverboat casinos and racinos to operate in the state. There was a push for land based casinos to be legalized but Governor Mike Pence (R) decided not to sign the bill in 2015 but also stated that he would not prevent the legislation from going through. Since the governor did not object, a State House bill was pushed through without his signature and it became the law.
The state of Indiana is now home to ten riverboat casinos and the Majestic Star casino in Gary has also announced that it plans to bring its casino to shore. The casino is expected to spend $135 million to develop a new casino on land acreage that is adjacent to its docks. The development of more land based casinos in Indiana will generate a lot more revenue for the local governments and in turn more programs benefiting the local communities can be rolled-out.