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Committee pushes gambling discussion to summer

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Indiana's riverboat casinos could receive tax breaks and be able to expand onto land under legislation the Senate Public Policy Committee debated Wednesday, but it won't happen anytime soon.

The panel didn't vote on the bill, however, which means it will likely head to a summer study committee for further discussion.

Sen. Phil Boots, R- Crawfordsville, called Senate Bill 364 a “very innovative idea” and stressed its importance as it pertains to Indiana’s gambling industry.

The bill would also authorize table gambling in racinos.

Competition to Indiana casinos has arisen from Ohio, which currently has six new venues drawing customers away from the Hoosier state.

“I think our operators are top notch, they just need the tools to compete with the rest of the world,” Boots said.

Indiana’s gaming revenue has been significantly declining in recent years.

In 2009, wagering at the casinos topped $2.8 billion. In 2012, it was $2.56 billion, an 11.8-percent drop.

Casino industry employment is also decreasing. In 2000, Indiana casinos employed 16,000 people, a number that has dropped to roughly 12,000.

“From a customer’s experience, you can’t compete with a land-based facility,” said Steve Jimenez, general manager of the Rising Star Casino (formerly the Grand Victoria Casino) in Rising Sun. “It gives us a good start to try to get to a level playing field.”

Jimenez also said that the legislation would help his casino bring business from out of state.

Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Alting, R- Lafayette, said he expected additional testimony from the owner of Rising Star – whom Alting referred to as “a brilliant mind in the field of gaming” – but the owner was unable to attend the meeting.

Alting did not bring the bill to a vote and referred the legislation to a summer study committee.

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  • hyperbole towards tea party
    Many of you leftists who comment here would be perfect candidates for another angry MSNBC prime time show. LOL
  • Yup.
    Agree with previous posters--we get to choke in the iron grip of blind morality until doing something else suits their fancy. Suddenly not so immoral to have table games once you start losing money, huh? This place is so backwards.
  • Easy man
    PJ, it's simple to understand. We have a right wing, tea party republican governor and a right wing tea party republican legislature. And, you have voters that vote Republican blindly and ignorantly. The result is the most oppressive state other than Iran. But keep pulling that Republican lever. At least Indiana has a world wide reputation for something.
  • WHY NOT
    I have a novel idea, why let the casinos have a land based operation, and let them have table games, and then worry about lower taxes after a two year period.
  • Why are we Morally Controlled?
    I never have understood and don't think I ever will understand why the State has laws against things such as these. This is obviously a moral based law. There is no reason people shouldn't be allowed to gamble their money however they want. Same goes with liquor sales on Sundays, Holidays and Election. Why?!?

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