INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana Senate committee is considering legislation
that would allow casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River to relocate
Proponents of the bill told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday
that moving the casinos on to land could improve their business and help
them stave off new competition or possible gambling expansions in
“This bill will help the gaming industry remain healthy and protect revenues
and jobs,” said Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette, the sponsor of the
Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said Indiana’s
casinos deserve some protection because they employ about 16,000 people, and
pay about $800 million in annual state taxes and another $300 million in
Some casinos oppose the bill, fearing they could lose business to other
Indiana casinos that relocate inland and attract more customers.
The committee did not vote on the bill Thursday, but plans to early next
The bill would allow riverboat casinos to move inland within the city or
county where they are located for a $50 million fee. One of two casinos on
Lake Michigan in Gary could be moved to a major intersection of interstates
in the city without paying a fee, because the other license would be
returned to the Indiana Gaming Commission.
“All we’re asking for is to move to a place where we can capture some
traffic,” said Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.
But the Casino Association of Indiana, which represents 12 of Indiana’s 13
casinos, wants to delay the issue for another year.
John Barnett, a lobbyist for the association, said four casinos supported
the bill but eight were opposed. He said the issue should be examined
further, even though an interim study committee spent hours this summer and
fall exploring ways to keep the industry competitive.
John Hammond, a lobbyist for Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg on the Ohio
River near Cincinnati, said it recently invested $330 million in expanding
the facility, including millions on the navigational equipment required for
riverboat casinos under current law. The bill would remove the navigational
Hammond suggested that it was unfair to allow other riverboat casinos to
move inland when it already had made such a big investment in an expanded
facility under the old rules.
“We recognized that competition was on its way,” Hammond said.
Ohio voters approved a ballot measure in November to allow one casino each
in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo.
An analysis by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency, the General
Assembly’s nonpartisan research arm, predicts three casinos in southeastern
Indiana — which rely heavily on customers from the Cincinnati area — would
be hardest hit by the new competition.
Hollywood Casino, Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun and Belterra Casino
near Vevay — all downstream from Cincinnati — could lose $260 million in
gambling revenues in the first year after the Ohio casinos open, the
analysis said. That would amount to a $93 million cut in taxes they pay.
The report said Hoosier Park’s casino in Anderson, about 25 miles northeast
of Indianapolis, would lose gambling customers to a Toledo casino, costing
the state another $9 million.
A new casino near Chicago is planned, as are more tribal casinos in
Michigan, which already has more than 20 such gambling attractions.
And Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear wants to legalize either slot machines or
casino-style gambling at racetracks throughout his state.