(INDIANAPOLIS) – Terre Haute’s bid for a casino gets a statehouse hearing next week, and Governor Holcomb says he won’t stand in the way.
Indiana hasn’t authorized a new casino market since 2007, when the racetracks in Anderson and Shelby County added slot machines. Terre Haute wants one of Gary’s two Majestic Star casino licenses, as part of a deal to move the other license off the lakefront to downtown Gary. Majority Leader Mark Messmer’s (R-Jasper) bill would allow the Gary city council to relocate either or both licenses, as long as one ends up in Vigo County and the other remains in Lake County. A move to Terre Haute would also require approval by the Terre Haute city council, and by Vigo County voters in a countywide referendum.
Holcomb’s not taking a position on the proposal, though he says the Indiana Gaming Commission will monitor the bill’s progress. He says the state long ago embraced legalized gambling and has profited from it, so opening up another part of the state to casinos isn’t a problem in itself.
But Holcomb and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) say legislators need to evaluate whether they risk maxing out a single market, or cannibalizing existing casinos by creating new ones. Lake County has four casinos, with the other two in Hammond and East Chicago.
Terre Haute tried and failed last year to win approval for a casino. The proposal then would have kept the total number of gaming positions in the state the same by shrinking the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun.
A Senate committee will consider the bill on Wednesday.
Messmer’s bill would legalize sports betting, a proposal that’s encountered little resistance. And it would allow the two racetrack casinos to offer table games immediately. Current law limits them to slot machines for two more years.
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