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Bills in General Assembly would ease costs for casinos

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The Indiana General Assembly is taking its first steps toward restructuring Hoosier gambling law. State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, announced she will introduce a bill in the 2010 session to address the findings of the Legislature’s Interim Gaming Study Committee, which investigated the threat of increased casino competition from border states and the differences between riverboat and racino taxes. State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, plans to file a companion bill in the Indiana House.

Rogers’ proposal would allow any existing riverboat casino to move to land and end the requirement that they maintain marine navigation systems. Riverboats that convert to land-based casinos would be required to stay in the same city, and would be charged a relocation fee.

The bill would also allow one of Gary’s riverboats to move inland and the license for its second to be returned to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, added a provision to Rogers’ bill that would assist Indiana’s two racinos by no longer requiring them to pay wagering tax on money set aside to bolster the state’s horse racing industry. Indianapolis-based Centaur Inc., owner of Anderson’s Hoosier Park racino, has been struggling with its tax burden. In late October, Centaur defaulted on a $13.4 million interest payment on its more than $400 million in outstanding debt, which the company is attempting to restructure.

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