On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the Indiana Legislature passed House Bill 1540 (“HB 1540”) a bill that, if signed into law, would amend the state’s casino gaming laws to allow for land-based casino facilities and a number of other changes. In addition, the bill would provide the legislature with greater oversight of the state’s compacting process with tribal nations. The bill will now be presented to Governor Mike Pence for signature.

Commercial Casino Changes

HB 1540 was introduced on January 20, 2015 and has seen several revisions and amendments as it worked through the legislature. It is a product of the legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Public Policy, which held a series of hearings last fall to receive input from the public, state gaming regulators, and casino operators regarding potential changes to the state’s gaming policies that would allow the industry to better compete with neighboring jurisdictions. As passed, HB 1540 would include several of the committee’s recommendations, including the following:

· Casino operators will be allowed to transition riverboat facilities to land-based facilities

· Increasing the tax deduction available for free play activity from $5 million to $7 million annually; and

· Would allow race track operators to apply to state regulators for authorization to operate table games with live dealers beginning in March 2021.

The bill does not, however, repeal the state’s admission tax, which operators have noted is difficult to calculate and unpredictable, proposing last fall to work with the legislature and local communities to develop an alternative assessment form.

Tribal Compacts

HB 1540 also seeks to provide the legislature with greater control over the state’s compacting process with Native American tribes seeking to enter into a gaming compact. Under the legislation, any gaming compact negotiated by the Governor’s office would require ratification from the legislature and must include specific provisions related to gaming management, revenue sharing, infrastructure payments, and gaming regulation.

After exiting conference committee, the bill was approved 75-11 in the State House and 36-13 in the State Senate. Governor Pence has been reported as opposing allowing tracks to operate live table games, as he views this as an expansion of gambling activity in the state, but it is unclear whether the delayed implementation would be an acceptable alternative to the Governor.

For more information on HB 1540, including the text of the legislation, please visit the Indiana Legislature’s website, here: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/house/1540#

 

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