Listen Live

(Photo: Indy Politics / Abdul Hakim-Shabazz)

Indiana is a step closer to legalizing sports betting in the Hoosier state.

The Senate Public Policy Committee has unanimously approved Senate Bill 552, moving a Gary casino license downstate and setting rules for sports betting.

The bill would allow casinos to offer sports wagering, in person or via smartphone for preregistered gamblers.

The Indiana Gaming Commission would decide which pro or college sports or events are eligible for bets – the only sports explicitly off-limits are high school games and professional e-sports.

Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt called into the Hammer and Nigel show to share the latest developments on the bill, which is an issue that’s close to the heart of our own Jason Hammer (code for “Hammer has a gambling problem”).

Senator Merritt said it was highly unusual for a controversial bill of this magnitude to pass through committee unanimously.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it happen,” said Merritt. “There are a lot of bills that go through the public policy committee that are controversial – either alcohol or gaming – and it’s a very well written bill.”

“Senator Mark Messmer and Senator Jon Ford really got together and combined bills, and it really put a great framework together,” said Merritt.

The bill now proceeds to Senate Appropriations Committee, where Senator Merritt predicts it will pass with relative ease.

If SB 522 ultimately becomes law, it would legalize sports betting in the state and move a riverboat license from Gary to Terre Haute, allowing a casino to be located in the city via referendum. 

Click the link below to hear Hammer and Nigel’s full interview with Senator Jim Merritt: