Pence doesn’t know if he’ll sign gambling bill

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he hasn’t decided whether to sign a gambling bill into law even though legislators took steps to try to avoid a veto.

“I'm going to take a very serious look at the legislation,” Pence said. “I have a sense there was a good-faith effort to address issues that we had raised. I’m going to give it a fair look.”

The bill lets riverboat casinos rebuild on land – something Pence calls a change in “business practice” – and extends a tax break that subsidizes a marketing tool for gambling operations.

But the legislature pulled back from a provision that would have immediately authorized live dealers at the state’s horse track-based casinos. Instead, the bill lets the governor decide in spring 2021 – just after Pence would leave office if he’s elected to a second term – whether to let the racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville replace their electronic table games with live dealers.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, who advocated for the live dealers, said the governor threatened to veto the bill if it authorized live dealers immediately – or in anything less than five years.

Still, Pence said he needs to review the bill before he decides whether to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

He said letting casinos rebuild on land “would allow them to remain competitive and viable in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

But he said he’ll have to take a “very serious look” at the rest of the bill and in particular legally examine the provisions that let racinos seek live dealers down the road.

“I think legislators knew where I stood on this,” Pence said. “I’m going to give it a fair look and we’ll make a decision after we’ve had a chance to review.”

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