Wednesday’s vote by the Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee on a bill that would allow a satellite casino in Terre Haute ended in a tie, rendering it dead in the water for the current session of the Legislature, according to the Tribune-Star.
The 5-5 vote in the state Senate committee saw proponents of SB 354, which was introduced in January by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, praise the initiative that would have allowed casino operator Full House Resorts Inc. to move 740 unused gaming positions from its Rising Star Casino Resort in Southern Indiana to a new casino in Terre Haute.
Supporters say the bill would help to keep the state’s gamblers from spending their money at neighboring Illinois casinos. Lawmakers are considering expanding gambling in Illinois that would see six locations in the state get casinos, including the city of Danville, which is approximately one hour north of Terre Haute.
Committee Chairman Ron Alting, R-Lafayette commended local leaders for their outstanding promotion of a casino but reportedly said that he hasn’t seen enough facts to be able to say whether or not the measure makes for good public policy for Indiana. Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, however, took a more decided stance saying that had the legislation been successful, a dangerous precedent would have been set by allowing the split, according to the news agency. Becker added that the move would also hurt Tropicana Evansville, which is just two hours north of Terre Haute and is working by existing rules and spending $50 million on an expansion of its riverboat operations in downtown Evansville onto land.
In 2015, casino owners Full House Resorts’ efforts to get legislatures in the state to allow them to open a casino in Indianapolis received little support. Having switched its focus to Terre Haute, Full House Resorts’ chief development officer Alex Stolyar recently said the proposed casino comes at the right time for expansion of the state’s gambling market in an area not previously considered for its casino. The company’s owners said allowing the relocation of the gaming positions would provide economic development and needed jobs to the Wabash Valley, while at the same time protecting tax revenues and jobs at the Rising Sun, which in addition to Illinois, faces completion from gaming venues in Cincinnati and the surrounding area, according to the report.
Senator Ford reportedly said the issue at hand is “too big” for a casino in Terre Haute to be an amendment attached to other legislation.