Senate Committee Approves Major Gaming Bill

Feb 7, 2019
Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) is the author of a bill that makes major changes to Indiana's gaming industry. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Senate lawmakers began Wednesday what one person called the first act of a three-act drama – debate on major changes to Indiana’s gambling industry.

The bill does three big things: it allows a Gary casino to move inland, away from the waterfront. It allows a casino to open in Terre Haute. And it legalizes sports wagering, including online.

Pokagon Tribe Begins South Bend Casino Construction

Dec 7, 2016


Michiana’s Native American tribe has begun construction on the first tribal casino in Indiana, just days after receiving sovereign status on 166 acres of land in South Bend.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians plans to build tribal housing and government facilities on its new land, too.

But tribal chair John Warren says the casino will play a central economic role when it’s completed in early 2018.

Tom Dermody /

The chairman of one of the most powerful committees at the statehouse won't run for a sixth term next year.

House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) says Republicans have talked to him about other offices, and doesn't rule it out in the future. But he says it's time to step aside for now after 10 years, especially since his son will be a senior in high school next year.

Daniel Incandela /

A proposal to move 700 gaming positions from Rising Sun to a new casino in Indianapolis may have more support in Rising Sun than in Indy.

Rising Sun Casino owner Full House Resorts has proposed a casino on the land which was home to the old Indianapolis International Airport.

Rising Sun Mayor April Hautman says the positions Full House Resorts wants to reallocate to Indy aren't being used anyway – the existing facility is allowed to employ up to 1,400 people, but only has space for half that many.

Raging Wire /

The Senate Thursday approved a wide-ranging bill aimed at helping the state’s gaming industry stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market.

But a major part of the discussion about the industry’s future will wait until next year.

The gaming bill allows riverboats to move inland on their existing footprint, limits the amount of gaming positions at each casino to whatever their highest number has been since 2007 and caps games at the racetrack casinos to 2,200.

Senate Suggests Live Racino Dealers -- In 2021

Mar 27, 2015
Brian Indrelunas /

Indiana‘s two racetrack casinos could hire live dealers to operate table games under a Senate proposal -- but not for six years.

A Senate committee is expected to vote Monday on an attempt to finesse Gov. Pence‘s reported opposition to live dealers at the racinos. By freezing the status quo until 2021, the proposal would let Pence stick to a vow to oppose any expansion of gambling as long as he‘s governor.

House Public Policy Chairman Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) is noncommittal, though he predicts there will be more changes to the bill.

Chris J / Flickr /

Controversial changes to Indiana’s gaming tax made in a House committee were taken out of a bill on the House floor Tuesday.

An amendment in the Ways and Means committee to gaming legislation last week eliminated the state’s admissions tax, changed the wagering tax and forced communities with casinos to renegotiate local agreements with those gaming facilities. 

Those changes could have cost local communities tens of millions of dollars. 

John Wardell /

Rising Star Casino Resort, located in the Southeastern corner of the state, was the first Indiana riverboat in the region. At its peak, the casino earned $160 million dollars per year.

But CEO Dan Lee says those days are gone.  Last year the casino only took in $60 million.

“This was built here as the first casino in the tristate area," Lee says. "It made a lot of money in those days. We’re sitting here now with it, trying to cover the payroll.”

Chris J / Flickr /

Local communities with casinos could face significant financial losses under changes made Thursday in the House Ways and Means Committee to gaming industry legislation. 

Communities where casinos are located currently get four pots of money because of those facilities: dollars from the admittance tax and the wagering tax, money from the state to supplement previous losses in the admittance tax, and money from what are called local development agreements, or L-D-As – essentially, side contracts with the casinos themselves. 

Lawmakers Considering Extending Smoking Ban To Casinos

Feb 13, 2015
Marco Papale /

A bill to lift restrictions on riverboat casinos is reopening the debate of whether the state smoking ban should apply to casinos.

New Albany Representative Ed Clere has introduced a bill to remove casinos’ exemption from the smoking ban.

Gary Representative Charlie Brown co-authored the original law.

With the riverboats seeking to move inland, Brown says he may seek to add the smoking restriction to that bill when it reaches the House floor in the next week or two.

John Wardell /

Legislation aimed at helping Indiana’s gaming industry stem a sharp decline in revenues passed its first test in the General Assembly when a House committee approved the bill Thursday.

Rep. Tom Dermody’s (R-LaPorte) bill allows Indiana’s riverboats to move inland onto their existing footprint.  And the state’s two racetrack casinos can add table games with live dealers. 

The live table games are capped at half of the number of existing electronic table games.  And for every live table game the racinos add, they must eliminate one of the electronic ones. 

Adam Tinworth /

Legislative leaders haven't decided how to deal with proposals to loosen restrictions on how Indiana casinos operate.

A summer study committee endorsed allowing the two racetrack casinos to add live dealers, and letting riverboats move their gaming operations onto land. Governor Pence, Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma have all said they oppose expanding gambling, but Bosma and Long agree there's no consensus on just what constitutes expansion.