Lawmakers still considering live table games at racinos

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana House Ways and Means Committee postponed amendments and a vote on a gambling measures Wednesday after supporters of the state’s horse-track casinos renewed their fight to get live dealers at their table games.

Lawmakers are working with a bill, authored by Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, that is an attempt to help out the casino industry under attack from new gambling operations in Ohio.

As passed by the Senate, the bill was laden with ways to help struggling Indiana casinos, whose revenues are annually the third or fourth largest source of income to the state. Among them were provisions allowing live gaming tables at race track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville, and permitting riverboats to move gaming on shore.

But last week, the House Public Policy Committee stripped those provisions from the bill, leaving behind only tax breaks for casino marketing and upgrades. But that didn’t stop casinos from lobbying the Ways and Means Committee to restore the bill to the Senate-passed version.

Steve Jimenez, general manager for Rising Star Casino and Resort in Rising Sun, said that since the new Cincinnati casino opened up this month, the riverboat has already suffered almost a 20-percent hit. He said that action by the legislature is necessary.

“From our standpoint, doing nothing will only add to the downturn,” Jimenez said.

Despite losing some of the provisions, Boots said that SB 528 still has plenty of incentives to help out the struggling casinos.

Boots told the committee that the bill includes two key tax and budget components:

— A provision that exempts up to $2 million in annual so-called “free play” for each casino. That affects the vouchers casinos send to customers to entice them to gamble. Currently, casinos are taxed on the use of those vouchers. The measure would let casinos send up to $2 million of those vouchers out untaxed.

— A provision that provides $40 million in annual tax credits for casino upgrades and improvements.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, is a House sponsor of the bill but was frustrated that it had been stripped of language allowing live dealers at table games.

Eberhart said asked the Ways and Means Committee to reinstate the provision permitting live dealers, saying it would mean economic development for Shelbyville, where Indiana Grand casino is located. That language would also add new taxes for the state.

“It was the only revenue-producing component of the bill,” Eberhart said. “Every other component will take away money from the general fund.”

Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, called the legislation the “easiest jobs bill” of the session — if it includes the provisions for live dealers.

Supporters say that would lead to a net increase of 600 jobs in Indiana — about 800 new positions at the horse track casinos and a loss of about 15 jobs at each of the state’s other casinos. Those job losses would come because table game players who normally visit a riverboat casino would choose the horse track casinos instead.

“It’s something we need to do,” Dermody said. We need to make the casinos as competitive as possible. There are people who will not play the electronic games.”


  • We are going the wrong way
    Im really sorry that I voted for Pence now. His ultra right wing radial christian views are going to take our state back 20 years. I wish I coul d take back my vote, I didn't sign up to take this state back wards....this will be a very scary 4 years
  • Serious question
    Can someone please explain why lives games are somehow "worse" than electronic ones? Pretty sure that wasn't addressed in the Bible...
  • It would get me to go
    I do play blackjack but do not want to drive to the boats. The so called live Blackjack tables at racinos are wierd. I would give some of my money up to the racinos if they had Blackjack as long as stakes were reasonable.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Thank you to the scientists who care enough to find a cure. We are so lucky that their intelligence has brought them to these understandings because it is through these understandings that we have new hope. Certainly the medicine will be expensive, these drugs usually are, especially the ones that are not mass produced. If I know anything from the walks that my town has put on for FA it is this: people care and people want to help. Donations and financial support can and will come to those who need it. All we need is a cure, the money will come. I mean, look at what these scientists have done thanks to the generosity of donors. 30 million dollars brings us here where we can talk about a drug's existence! There is so much to be frustrated about in this world, but this scientific break is not one of them. I am so happy for this new found hope. Thank you so much to the scientists who have been slaving away to help my friends with FA. We wish you speedy success in the time to come!

  2. I love tiny neighborhood bars-- when I travel city to city for work, it's my preference to find them. However, too many still having smoking inside. So I'm limited to bars in the cities that have smoking bans. I travel to Kokomo often, and I can promise, I'll be one of those people who visit the ma and pa bars once they're smoke free!

  3. I believe the issue with keystone & 96th was due to running out of funds though there were other factors. I just hope that a similar situation does not befall ST RD 37 where only half of the overhaul gets built.

  4. It's so great to see a country founded on freedom uphold the freedom for all people to work and patronize a public venue without risking their health! People do not go to bars to smoke, they can take it outside.

  5. So, Hurko, mass transit has not proven itself in Indy so we should build incredibly expensive train lines? How would that fix the lack of demand? And as far as those double decker buses to bus people in from suburbs, we can't fill up a regular sized buses now and have had to cancel lines and greatly subsidize others. No need for double decker buses there.