House Bill 1540 earned approval on Thursday after the Senate voted 36-13 in favor of the measure. The approval moves Indiana one step closer to offering land based gaming within the Northwest region of the state. Full passage of the bill would allow the state’s riverboat casinos to move on to land, offering gaming at new facilities adjacent to the river locations.
State Senator Earline Rogers, a co-sponsor of the bill, is in agreement with permitting land based casinos to be created by the riverboat gaming facilities. Additional changes are included in the measure that would give the casinos a better chance to compete with facilities located in nearby states. Rogers stated that the approval by the Senate will give the state gaming industry a fighting chance with neighboring states such as Illinois.
A second co-sponsor of the measure, State Senator Luke Kenley, commented on the bill by stating: “Whether you’re for or against gaming, this is a recognized part of our society and its big revenue producer for our state, and so we have a partnership and an obligation to our consumers to try to make it be what it should be.”
Kenley took great care to create the legislation to avoid the feel of gaming expansion. The State Governor, Mike Pence, is in opposition of expansion of gaming, but will not state what he considers to be ‘expansion’. A particular portion of the measure would authorize two horse track casinos in the state to replace their video dealer gaming with human dealers by 2021, on such games as blackjack and roulette, which just so happens to coincide to when Pence will be finishing his second term in office.
The legislation was approved by the House and was then changed by the Senate. The measure will now need to be reviewed and by next week a decision will be made as to if the House will be asked to concur with the changes made in the Senate or if the measure will be sent to the House-Senate conference committee to create a compromise proposal for re-approval by both chambers.
The removal of the provision allowing immediate installation of live dealer tables at race tracks means casinos like the Rising Star, who might gain no other benefits from the bill, will have time to adjust their business strategies to compete. Rising Star has said they probably won’t leave the river, but have other ideas such as a ferry service to increase their revenues.