Indiana Betting, Casino Expansion Bill Sweeps Through First Committee

A bill that calls for the legalization of sports betting in Indiana and allows the relocation of two casino licenses survived yesterday its first legislative hurdle

The Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee approved unanimously Senate Bill 552 that allows for the biggest gambling expansion in the state since the legalization of casinos. The bill is authored by Senators Mark Messmer and Jon Ford.

Under provisions in the comprehensive piece of legislation, the state’s casinos will be allowed to offer both in-person and mobile betting on different sports. It will be up to the state Gaming Commission to determine on which professional and college sports and sporting events bettors will be able to place wagers. Betting on high school games and professional eSports will remain strictly prohibited even if SB 552 gets enough traction into the state’s Legislature and takes effect as a law.

Only people aged 21 or over will be able to gamble on sports. As mentioned earlier, the legislation also allows for the provision of mobile wagering services. Gamblers will be able to place wagers via their smartphones from anywhere within the state. However, they will first need to register with a licensed casino.

A $300 Million Boutique Casino Coming to Gary

Among other gaming expansion proposals, SB 552 also allows for the relocation of two riverboat casino licenses held by Gary-based Majestic Star Casino LLC. One of the licenses will allow for a land-based casino to be built in the city of Terre Haute. The other license could be used for a potential new casino just outside Gary.

Gaming company Spectacle Entertainment revealed yesterday plans to build a $300 million casino resort along the Borman Expressway near Gary. The resort will feature a casino and a 200-room hotel. The plan’s materialization depends on the success of SB 552 in the Indiana General Assembly. Spectacle said yesterday that the land-based facility could annually generate revenue of $75 million and create 400 jobs, doubling Majestic Star Casino’s current staff.

Another proposal in SB 552 would allow for the state’s racinos to start offering table games immediately. Under a law passed in 2015, the state’s racetrack casinos would only be able to add games like roulette, craps, and blackjack in 2021. SB 552 aims to fast-track the process in a bid for racinos to be able to draw more customers and generate additional revenue.

SB 552 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee where its impact on the state’s revenue would be reviewed more closely. If the piece survives a vote in that committee, as well, it will then be referred to the full Senate floor, and finally to the House. If it succeeds in navigating its way through the Legislature, it will come into effect on July 1, 2019.

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