The gambling industry in Indiana is about to expand, but lawmakers don’t want anyone to see it. After the Indiana Senate approved a gambling bill this past Tuesday, politicians are trying to avoid the term “gambling expansion” in favor of the wordy “opportunity to leverage the state’s existing assets.”
The idea is to try and prevent too much attention being given to the controversial measures approved by the Senate with Senate Bill (SB) 552 as it heads to the House. The attempt probably won’t have its intended effect, as House Speak Brian Bosma has already expressed his desire to cut back on the bill’s provisions. After the bill was approved by the Senate, Bosma stated that he was surprised it had been accepted by his fellow legislators.
Among the many parts of SB 552 is a measure that would allow riverboat casinos to head further inland. The state authorized land-based gambling in 2015, but with the general understanding that those operations would remain close to their original locations.
Through the bill, two floating casinos, Majestic Star 1 and Majestic Star II, would be allowed to move from Lake Michigan to dry land, with one possibly going to Terre Haute and the other to Gary. This is where the problem lies—opponents of SB 552, or anything gambling expansion-related, have tried to argue that the measure effectively requires a new license to be issued and are trying to prevent the bill from making it through Indiana’s Congress.
SB 552 also creates a competitive bidding process in order to see a casino come to Terre Haute. This would allow Rising Star Casino’s parent company, Full House Resorts, to possibly be able to build a casino in the southeastern Indiana city, a goal the company has had for many years. Terre Haute is supportive of a casino in its backyard and doesn’t care who builds it—it just wants the revenue.
Sports gambling fans in the state may be out of luck. Even though Indiana is hoping to launch the activity by next January, sports gambling provisions in SB 552 might find resistance in the House and eventually be scrapped or cause the entire bill to stall. Fortunately, House Bill 1363 is still alive and could potentially find its place quicker than SB 552.