For immediate release:
Feb. 12, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS - Legislation co-authored by State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson) that will take a significant first step in ensuring the continued viability of the gaming industry in Anderson and other locations across Indiana cleared a substantial legislative hurdle today.
Members of the Indiana House Public Policy Committee today approved House Bill 1540, legislation that Austin said will enable Indiana’s gaming industry to more effectively compete with neighboring states. The measure now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for additional consideration.
“While I know that it is tempting to simply label this as a gaming bill, people should know that HB 1540 is a jobs bill,” Austin said. “It will mean the retention of jobs at existing operations across this state, and it will mean as many as 150 new jobs at Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Grand near Shelbyville. These jobs will pay good wages and benefits, and play a key role in revitalizing one of Indiana’s key industries. Most importantly, we can achieve all of this without costing taxpayers a dime.”
A key element of the legislation is an amendment offered by Austin that will enable the state’s two racinos to offer live table games. At present, the racinos can offer only electronic table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps and poker.
“What we are attempting to do is provide consumers with the types of experiences that already are offered at racinos in neighboring states,” Austin said. “There is no reason why a Hoosier should have to drive to another state in order to enjoy table games with a live dealer. With this legislation, we are simply giving the people what they want: games with real cards, real chips and real dice.”
Austin estimated the changes sought in HB 1540 would provide up to $4.1 million in additional revenue to the state and more than $800,000 in new revenue to local communities. It would also provide more than $3.5 million in added support for Indiana’s horse industry.
Another provision of the bill allows Indiana's riverboat casinos to move inland to adjacent properties --ending the requirement those casinos be moored in water. In addition, the measure extends to 2018 the deadline for the promotional play tax credit used by the industry.
“I know there is substantial opposition to this bill, but it is also important to know that the improvements contained in HB 1540 are supported by a bipartisan coalition that includes many of the Legislature’s prime movers and shakers,” Austin said. “I will note that the bill itself is authored by State Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte), the chairman of the Public Policy Committee that heard HB 1540 today.
“We realize the simple fact that this legislation is needed to keep Indiana’s gaming industry competitive with neighboring states,” she added. “Those states have already enacted many of the changes sought in HB 1540 and they reap the benefits. Gaming is a fact of life in Indiana. It has created hundreds of jobs, but it also runs the risk of being left behind unless it changes with the times. HB 1540 is our vehicle for those changes.”