HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 30Indiana Legislature Continues Discussion on Possible Gaming Reforms

On October 8, 2014, the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy (“Committee”) of the Indiana Legislature held the second of three hearings to explore potential changes to the state’s gaming regulatory structure. The hearing followed a September 25, 2014 meeting that provided background on the state’s history with casino gambling and an overview of the current issues facing the industry.

The purpose of the October 8 hearing was to afford the state’s casino operators with an opportunity to provide further detail on the statutory and regulatory issues facing the industry and how this has affected their ability to compete in the regional market. Five main issues were discussed: the move from riverboat to land-based facilities, a reform of a tax on free-play promotions, the removal of the riverboat admission’s tax, potentially allowing live dealers for table games at horse tracks, and the state of French Lick Casino.

Representatives from the state’s riverboat casinos made a joint presentation providing arguments for why moving riverboat facilities to land would be beneficial to the state. A primary reason is to allow the facilities to better compete with land-based facilities in Ohio and other neighboring jurisdictions. In addition, as noted by Mr. Pete Liguori of Majestic Star Casino and Mr. Steve Jimenez of Rising Star Casino, the move to land-based facilities would create a total of approximately 2,000 construction jobs and generate significant investment as operators create permanent land-based structures. Senator Ron Alting noted that if land-based facilities are allowed, the change in legislation would likely include a minimum capital investment and gaming position limitations.

In regards to changes in the free-play tax system, Mr. Ryan Soultz of Boyd Gaming noted that the legislature should either raise or repeal the current annual deduction limit (currently set at $5 Million) for free play activity. Further, he and Mr. Mike Smith of the Casino Association of Indiana both noted that operators would like to see a repeal of the riverboat admission’s tax, stating that operators are willing to make up payments to local units of government through other, more predictable revenue generating methods.

Representatives from Centaur Gaming, which operates Indiana-based horse tracks, note that there was a strong desire for tracks to be able to offer live table games to patrons. In support, they noted that the change would generate approximately $15-30 Million in investment and create a total of 600 permanent jobs that have an estimated average salary of $45,000. The proposed change, however, was opposed by representatives from French Lick Casino, who claimed that the change would further reduce revenues to the facility in the face of increased competition. This opposition was echoed by a representative of Hollywood Casino.

The Committee will meet for its third and final scheduled hearing on the matter on October 30, 2014 at 10:00am. The hearing will discuss video lottery terminals, internet gaming, and horsemen-related issue. For more information on the series of hearings, as well as to obtain meeting materials, please visit the Committee’s website at: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2014/committees/i_public_policy_interim_study_committee_on

 

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