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Indiana lawmakers urged to strengthen casino industry

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A southern Indiana economic development association is urging the Legislature to strengthen the state's casino industry by revising existing gambling laws to allow it to remain competitive as casinos open in surrounding states.

New Albany-based One Southern Indiana says the move is necessary to continue to provide the tax revenue, jobs and other benefits that have become an integral part of the economies of Indiana and cities that have casinos. Republican state Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany told The Times of Munster that changes in Indiana gambling laws could include allowing casinos to relocate to more easily accessible sites, such as along a highway, instead of on a river or lake.

That could bring together groups from opposite ends of the state because officials in Gary also are interested in a land-based casino being approved during the upcoming legislative session. The common theme is increased competition from neighboring states.

Ten of Indiana's 13 casinos are near neighboring states. At northwest Indiana's five casinos, a majority of the gamblers are from Illinois or Michigan. Those casinos are now facing possible competition in Chicago. Illinois lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year that would bring casinos to Chicago and four other areas. Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the bill, saying it didn't include enough ethics protections and he wanted money from the gambling expansion to go to education. But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said recently that he and Quinn are "very close" to a deal for a Chicago casino.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has pushed to lift a constitutional ban on casino gambling in that state, but had been stopped by then-Senate President David Williams. Beshear appointed Williams in October to become a circuit judge in southern Kentucky. Beshear contends that Kentucky is losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year to neighboring states that already have casinos.

The Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati is scheduled to open in the spring and is expected to draw customers from Indiana casinos in Lawrenceburg, Rising Sun and Florence, which will mean fewer tax dollars crossing in to Indiana.

It is not yet known whether supporters of gambling reform from northwestern Indiana will work with lawmakers from southern Indiana on legislation that could help both regions of the state. State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, the leading proponent of a land-based casino in Gary, plans to bundle in one bill the casino move and other Gary-specific proposals.

When Indiana first allowed casinos, state law required the boats to go on several daily cruises and to be self-propelled. The state later approved a land-based casino at French Lick and allowed horse tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville to add slot machines. In 2002, lawmakers changed the law to allow the casinos to remain docked.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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