A bill rewriting Indiana casino regulations cleared its first hurdle without any dissenting votes. But opposition may be coming on two fronts.
The Senate Public Policy Committee has voted unanimously to allow live table games at racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelby County.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long says that‘s an expansion of gambling, something that‘s been a red line for legislators for years.
“They‘re seeking to be a full-blown casino,” Long says. “Obviously, if you walk in there, you see an electronic blackjack table. I‘m not sure that‘s what we perceived as ‘electronic slots‘ when they were passed originally. But to give them the other table games, that‘s definitely adding to their gaming.”
Long says some gambling opponents in the Senate will oppose the measure on that basis alone. But Long says the more serious opposition to the bill is likely to center on its fiscal impact.
A legislative analysis calculates changes in how casinos are taxed would cost the state at least $150 million over the next two years.
Long says it‘s clear that if legislators do nothing, the casinos and the state will take a financial hit from new casinos springing up in Ohio and Michigan, and possibly Illinois and Kentucky as well.
He says legislators have to decide whether the casino industry deserves a hand, and what form it should take. And Long warns that decision is complicated by the casinos‘ difficulty in agreeing amongst themselves.