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Lawmakers Want Land Based Casinos in Indiana
- November 5, 2014 By Oliver Young -
According to a report from Nwitimes, the gaming study committee of the General Assembly in Indiana agreed on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 to allow its ten riverboat casinos to move onto land. The decision was unanimous.
The biggest reason for the unanimous decision was the belief that land based gaming on adjacent casino property will make Indiana more competitive with new brick and mortar casinos being opened in nearby states. The decision was accompanied by tax incentives for the casino operators to construct new properties or rehabilitate those already existing.
“There is a current situation where casinos are struggling to survive in this competitive gambling market and we can either sit back and do nothing or we can help them,” said state rep. Tom Dermody.
It Is Not an Expansion of Gambling
Dermody pointed out that this is not an expansion of casino gambling in Indiana, feared much by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, because the casinos will be limited and restricted to the number of slots and table games they offered by July 1 in their new facilities.
He also convinced the governor and many others from the House and Senate that he will make big effort throughout the 2015 legislative session. Still, this is just a recommendation. Proposals that cause change in the already exiting state law must go through a rocky and uncertain road until they get to the Statehouse starting next year.
Other Recommendations Proposed
The Majestic Star is considering two casino facilities for tax and regulatory purposes. Its CEO Peter Liguori told Indiana lawmakers that without tax advantages provided by the two licenses it will be almost impossible to move to a land based facility worth between $95 million and $135-million they want to build near its already existing hotel.
According to Dermody, Gary Casino currently has an advantage over the other casinos mainly because it will be the only Northwest Indiana casino to move onto land right away. Therefore, it would be reasonable to see whether Majestic Star can provide enough evidence that it needs two licenses or that it needs relief from the state’s progressive wagering tax.
Furthermore, other suggestions were recommended. One of it was prolonging the $5 million per year free play tax deduction by 2018. This refers to excluding casinos from paying betting tax on promo play coupons to regular gamblers.
Another recommendation was the replacement of the gambler admission tax of $3 per person with other unspecified revenue source. Some other proposals were allowing live dealers at two house track casinos in central Indiana and better marketing strategy promoting the casino at the French Lick Resort.
State Sen. Jim Arnold also pointed out that the changes need to be enacted not only to make Indiana casinos more competitive with nearby casinos in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, but also with the tribal casino which is likely to open closely South Bend in the coming years. This casino is believed to offer bigger and better prizes and rewards as it is not subject to Indiana gaming taxes.