Feigenbaum: Gaming Bill a 'Game Changer'

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Ed Feigenbaum is the editor of Indiana Gaming Insight. (photo courtesy of our partners at WFYI) Ed Feigenbaum is the editor of Indiana Gaming Insight. (photo courtesy of our partners at WFYI)

The editor of Indiana Gaming Insight says the gaming bill signed into law yesterday by Governor Eric Holcomb will be a huge boon for the Indiana economy. The bill allows, among other things, sports wagering both through mobile devices and at Hoosier casinos and also authorizes new casinos in Vigo County and downtown Gary. Ed Feigenbaum says the legislation does more for gaming revenue in Indiana than has been seen in many years, especially with the proposed new casinos. 

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Feigenbaum said the bill does more for the Indiana economy than just revenue.

"We're also talking jobs. We're talking perhaps 800 to 1,000 jobs in Vigo County. We're talking about a net increase of some 800 jobs (in Gary)," said Feigenbaum. "We're also looking at the ability to clear the land at Buffington Harbor, which the city of Gary has been wanting to do to build a transmodal port to capitalize on the synergy of the deep water port that they've got there where they'll be able to construct or improve."

The bill also allows for live dealers at Indiana's two racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville beginning in 2020. Feigenbaum says that aspect of the bill should not be overlooked, particularly at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville.

"Caesars Entertainment Corp., which is the new owner of the two racinos, is very high on the Shelbyville property in particular for investment. I think that before long, you're going to see a hotel there. You're going to see significant additional economic development. They're talking about perhaps a $60-$80 million addition in order to accommodate the table games there and you're also talking about that becoming more of a destination kind of facility than it has been and that's something that would become another amenity for essentially the city of Indianapolis and they're looking at the potential of as many as 600 more jobs in Anderson and Shelbyville stemming from the live table games."

Feigenbaum says the two Majestic Star riverboat casinos in Gary have seen declining revenue over the years, which is expected to turn around with a new downtown Gary casino. Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, which owns the two casinos, is looking to essentially combine them into one and also compete for the license to operate the Vigo County casino. Feigenbaum says one aspect of the bill that has gone a bit overlooked is that a new operator that currently doesn't have a presence in Indiana could ultimately be granted the license for the Vigo County casino.

The sports wagering aspect of the bill is expected to go into effect in September and Feigenbaum says it will take a lot of effort on the part of regulators and tax officials to get a system in place by then. He says the addition of sports wagering will give casinos an opportunity to approach a new generation of gamblers who more interested in participatory and social gaming activities. 

Feigenbaum adds he is also interesting in seeing how non-gaming entities can benefit from sports wagering, something legislators may not have though about.

"With the mobile gaming, if you're going to be able to do this on your smartphone or your iPad, you don't need to be in a casino. You don't need to necessarily do this at home on your couch. You can go out to a sports bar and it might be that some of these venues set up little areas that look an awful lot like the sports wagering areas in the casinos and the only difference is you can't physically place your bets there but you can place them from your table on your smartphones. So, I think there's going to be a lot of private sector attempts to capitalize on this outside of the casinos as well because this is a real opportunity for some of these different bars and restaurants to also keep and capture the generation that is going to be doing these things on a lot more of a group and social basis."

Feigenbaum breaks down the components of the gaming bill.
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