Indiana's riverboat casinos will be allowed to build new on-land facilities under a bill that Gov. Mike Pence will allow to become law without his signature.
Pence said in a statement Friday that the bill, House Enrolled Act 1540, was consistent with his position of helping Indiana's casinos remain competitive while not allowing an expansion of gambling.
Earlier versions of the legislation would've allowed the horse track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to add live dealers for table games immediately, but that provision was dropped after Pence objected. The new law will allow those casinos to seek permission for live dealers in 2021.
The riverboat casinos have had to remain on the Ohio River or Lake Michigan since they started opening in the 1990s.
Indiana's casinos have faced growing competition from neighboring states.
The governor also said he would allow one other gambling-related bill to pass into law without his signature, but he vetoed HEA 270, which would have allowed Advance Deposit Wagering.
The proposal would permit Indiana residents to place bets from wagering accounts with a pari-mutuel organization. Horse race wagers can now be placed legally only at the state's two pari-mutuel horse tracks and its four off-track betting parlors.
The bill passed the House and Senate by wide margins, and lawmakers could override Pence's veto with a simple majority.
The governor said the bill expanded gambling on horse races to include not only in-person bets, but also those made by electronic means.
“This legislation is contrary to my long-time position against online gaming,” Pence said in a written statement. “Advance Deposit Wagering, not currently permitted in Indiana, would also violate my position on expanding gaming here in Indiana.”
Pence said he will allow SEA 252 to become law without his signature. This law will increase per diem for Horse Racing Commission members, allows the Horse Racing Commission to use breed development funds to promote the horse racing industry, and codifies current standards regarding days of racing as previously established by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.
Pence signed SEA 327, which applies to charity gaming at schools, churches, veterans organizations and police and fire departments.
“Most Hoosiers know that I oppose an expansion of gaming in Indiana, but I recognize that gaming has become an important part of the economy of many communities in our state and is an important part of our state budget,” Pence said. “From early in the legislative process, I made it clear that I would not stand in the way of reforms that would allow these businesses to remain competitive with surrounding states so long as it did not constitute an expansion of gaming in Indiana. HEA 1540 and SEA 252 meet this standard and, as such, I will permit them to become law without signature.”
A list of bills Pence has considered can be found here.