Indiana State Senate Passes Gambling Expansion Bill

Indiana capitol building

30-second summary

  • Senate Bill 552 has been passed by the Indiana Senate
  • The bill will legalize sports betting and allow a casino license in Gary to change locations, along with additional gambling changes
  • Bill could be challenged as it moves to the House

A large gambling expansion package has passed the Senate in Indiana. Senate Bill 552 was approved by the state Senate with a vote of 38 to 11. The bill would make several changes to the gambling landscape in the state. Included in the bill are the legalization of sports betting and a casino license in Gary moving to another region. The legislation would also make changes to laws affecting table games and casino operations.

Large gaming expansion

Senate Bill 552 would be one of the largest expansions of gambling in the history of the state.

The bill would remove a cap on the number of casinos a company is allowed to have in the state. The date for racinos to offer table games with live dealers will also be moved up on the calendar with the measure. Racinos would not have to wait until 2021 to offer live dealer table games and could get started this year.

Senator Mark Messmer is the sponsor of the bill. The senator sees the measure as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset the Indiana casino industry. Senator Messmer said: “It will help our existing casino operators be more competitive and will maximize our ability as a state to benefit from increased gaming revenues to our general fund, without increasing the number of licenses and staying within the caps that were established in 2013 for the number of positions at each facility.”

Much at Stake

The bill may be challenged in the House, as some lawmakers are not happy with the idea of expanding gambling in the state. House Speaker Brian Bosma has stated that he feels the proposal is an unacceptable form of expansion for gaming.

The legislation is combined with a separate measure that would see the Buffington Harbor of Gary redeveloped once the Majestic Star Casinos make their move.

Senate Bill 66 was passed in the Senate 43-6, establishing a new Gary Indiana Transmodel Compact. The compact would be directed by a nine-member board, with four members will be from the city and five from the state. Two non-voting members would be included as well. One would be from the World Trade Center Indianapolis and one from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

Gary has faced many challenges over the years and the development is a way to provide opportunity for the region as well as the state. In the beginning, funding for the projects would come via a local development agreement involving the Terre Haute casino operator. This is how the bill coincides with Senate Bill 552.

Both Senate Bill 552 and Senate Bill 66 move on to the House for consideration. The Senate is expected to take up the bills within the next month and a half.