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Lawmakers Decry Gaming Bill As Breaking Promises, Gutting Budgets

Lawmakers representing Indiana’s communities with casinos say legislation awaiting the governor’s signature breaks promises and drains local budgets.

The legislation seeks to modernize Indiana’s gaming tax system. But the measure could decrease how much money local communities get from their casinos.

Under existing law, locals are guaranteed $48 million a year; under the bill, if gaming revenues continue to fall, so will the money for those communities, beginning in 2022.

Rep. Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says delaying the financial decrease doesn’t make the bill better.

“This is really one of those bills that got watered down some but I really hoped was going to drown before it crossed the river,” Pelath says.

Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), who represents gaming communities on the Ohio River, says taking the money away breaks a long-standing deal.

“I don’t believe this bill’s gonna stay like this. I believe this isn’t the endgame – this is the beginning of the end. We’ll be back. We’ll take more. We’ll accelerate it and we’ll do it to the poorest and smallest communities in our state,” Frye says.

The governor has until next week to decide whether to sign the bill.

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